The world of gaming has shifted over the last five years to show that tween girls want in on the fun. A recent report released today by Spil Games shows that the amount of time tween girls (ages eight to 12) spend playing games per month has more than doubled over the last year, from 38 minutes a month to 1 hour and 18 minutes.
The report draws from data collected by Spil Games from the more than 7.6 million monthly unique users of its GirlsgoGames platform.
While many in the casual and social online gaming realm have seen the demographics of the average gamer shift from young males to a wider reach (such as the advertisers’ favorite group of mommy gamers), it is only recently that young girls have taken to online gaming in such numbers.
The three most popular gaming categories for these tween girls are cooking, dress up and test & quiz. So everything from makeup and fashion show games to bakery tutorials are getting a lot of play from this age group.
I caught up with Vice President of Corporate Development at Spil Games, Floris Jan Cuypers and Corporate Business Development Director Ivar Zantinge to find out just how important this demographic is to their growing gaming-exclusive platform.
The Dutch company has been building its platform since 2004 and has curated 80% of its games from third-party developers to build a gaming community with 190 million monthly average users.
“We have really listened to what our audience wants in a gaming platform and make sure to build brand name franchises that can grow from more than just a single game,” Jan Cuypers told me. “Entering the US market has provided us a great deal of perspective on where we can go with our platform and has encouraged us to think of ourselves as an entertainment business that can spur merchandise and animation possibilities.”
Spil has discovered that interactivity is a huge part of gaming for girls, and so they have been focused on creating more ways for girls to share the creations they make in their games and add more access via mobile devices.
Thus far, the iOS devices are the most popular mobile devices girls use to access online games, but Android phones are becoming increasingly popular with 46% of mobile sessions. The latest tween girl game that Spil launched on iOS was Shopaholic.
Spil also found the five leading destinations for gaming tweens in the US – by monthly average users -- are GirlsgoGaming (with 5.2 million MAUs), Club Penguin (with 5.2 million MAUs), Barbie.com (with 2.5 million MAUs), Kizi.com (with 2 million MAUs), and Stardoll with 1.5 million MAUs).
“With play time more than doubling over the last year alone and girls uploading 3,500 pieces of new content each hour, it’s clear that for tween girls, online gaming is about more than just the game: it’s about being creative, cultivating friendships and engaging with a fun community,” said Oscar Diele, Spil Games Chief Marketing Officer. “Since GirlsgoGames is the number one tween girl site in the U.S., we are in the unique position to identify and better understand the habits and trends of tween girl gaming and use this inaugural report as a benchmark for future analysis.”
Zantinge also believes that there is a benefit in creating a gaming platform with a specific audience in mind.
“When you are speaking to teens, you are also reaching to parents and building trust that these games are age appropriate,” Zantinge said. “We only partner strategically with the groups that we have the most confidence in.”
Currently Spil Games host more than 3,000 games (roughly one-quarter of which are social games and 75% in the casual gaming realm). Like everyone else in this space, Spil is trying to get a handle on how to make the mobile arm of its company as seamless as the Web-based browser access as it scales its company to have global appeal.
“There are still many challenges ahead of us,” Jan Cuypers said. “Such as hiring at the rate we need and getting people on the ground in the geographical areas we want to reach, but this is a really fun space to be in and we have only begun to tap into all the elements that technology has to offer gaming.”