• Despite a historic focus on male gamers, women are set to account for almost a third of spend on video games and their accessories this year, and are more likely to game alone compared to men
  • Mobile phones are the most popular gaming platform (53% game on mobiles currently), and 19% of respondents predict that they will spend more time gaming on mobiles in future
  • Virtual Reality headsets are the type of kit British gamers are most likely to invest in over the next two years, with 15% of respondents selecting this option
  • One in seven British gamers would buy a UK made game over those from abroad, with more relevant humour (41%), more compelling story-telling (23%) and having a favourite British games developer (16%) among the reasons cited
  • UK games makers could do more to promote their provenance, as many UK gamers presume best-selling British video games including Grand Theft Auto V and Monument Valley to be products of the USA

Barclays Corporate Banking’s UK Video Gamers Trends Survey finds that female gamers are the hidden gem in the UK video gaming crown. British women look set to spend £1.1 billion on video games and their accessories over the next 12 months – a third of the total £3.5 billion projected spend for British adults over the same period, driven by growth in mobile games and a wider range of titles targeting both men and women.

The research also suggests the women are more inclined to see gaming as a solitary activity compared to men, which is consistent with how they play; our research showed that women preferred gaming on mobile devices to consoles or computers, with the majority of mobile games being single-player titles.

Our research also found that men are more likely to play games as a form of social activity. Women are more likely than men to say they play games individually on apps/ online/ or on consoles at home than men (82% versus 77% for men). Similarly, men are more likely than women to say they play video games “with friends in person on separate consoles” (11% versus 9%), “with friends on single consoles” (16% versus 12%), or say they are part of online video game communities and play virtually with members and friends (11% versus 8%). The gap, however, is certainly narrower than many might expect.

Sean Duffy, Head of Technology, Media & Telecoms at Barclays Corporate Banking said:

“The UK’s £4.3bn video games industry is a thriving and vital contributor to our economy.2 While trends in mobile and virtual reality are well publicised, female gamers have been a substantial driver of growth in the industry over recent years, opening up a part of the market that was previously overlooked.

“Our research finds that the majority of female gamers engage through mobile, and the growth of mobile titles has no doubt been central to increased uptake by women. Of all of the platforms we surveyed, mobile is forecast to see the most growth over the next 5 years. There is a big opportunity for developers to expand the female market with mobile games targeting women.

“At Barclays, we’ve seen first-hand the evolution of the sector and the quality of the games created. We’re committed to helping UK video game producers grow more quickly and continue to compete internationally.”

Future Trends

The time British adults spend gaming is also on the rise. The average length of time spent by Brits on gaming is 1-3 hours a week, but the numbers spending over eight hours a week on gaming has increased, with nearly a third (31%) spending this amount of time every week on the activity, compared to a quarter five years ago.

British gamers also plan to invest in their gaming hardware over the next two years, with virtual reality headsets (15%) and individual consoles (also 15%) being the most popular areas for investment, followed by gaming accessories for Xbox and PlayStation (12%).

The dominance of mobile phones as the platform for gaming looks set to continue. Mobile phones are currently the most popular gaming platform (53%), followed by tablets (37%) and consoles (37%), but only three per cent of respondents currently stream or play games direct from TV. A fifth (19%) predict that they will spend more time playing games on mobile phones in future, followed by tablets and consoles (both 15%).

British Titles

UK based video game companies could boost sales by promoting their ‘Made in Britain’ status. A survey of regular gamers found 15% would choose a British game over one made abroad, if they knew of its provenance.

British gamers find the humour of British-made games to be more relevant (41%) and the story-telling more compelling (23%). Some gamers are also loyal to their favourite British developers, with 16% citing this as a reason, and a general desire to buy British wherever possible was selected by 74% of respondents.

The survey highlights how UK video game companies could benefit from making their origins clearer. The same poll found respondents unable to identify blockbuster UK video games such as Grand Theft Auto V (17%), Batman Arkham Knight (9%), Runescape (7%), Forza Horizon 3 (7%) and Monument Valley (5%) as being locally developed, with many presuming these to be products of the USA. At the same time, the majority of respondents (75%) underestimated the total value of the UK’s gaming industry when asked.