Okay, it’s a poor man’s version of an Onion headline but this news item posted yesterday on Dealerscope was interesting AND disturbing. Microsoft is marketing to women gamers in order to expand hardware sales.
The news that women play video games is about as shocking as the fact that women go to movies. Every few months or so, someone comes out with a piece of data that “discovers” this demographic as a viable market.
According to a Gannett News Service story: “We’ve sold 20 million consoles to date globally since we launched three years ago,” says Heather Snavely, Microsoft’s director of interactive entertainment business global platforms. “In order to get to the next 20 million, we need to get a new audience of women and teens. We’re going after them in ways that are different than ways we’ve done before.”
Well, different for the electronics industry anyway. Microsoft is deploying a tried and true method of selling to women — the house party. Just like Avon, Tupperware and Magic Chef, Xbox is pushing home gaming parties where hostess’ earn party packs, universal remote controls, Xbox live subscriptions and points. All to help promote the platform.
It’s great that Microsoft is paying more attention to women gamers. By many accounts, women make up the majority of gamers when including things like cell phone games, and less violent puzzles, card and word games. Now they just have to get the schmoes that populate the Xbox live to be more inclusive. Game blogs report varying levels of prejudice ranging from girl players simply being ignored to outright hostility. Forums like Gamerchix might help and house parties are interesting solutions, but why are initiatives like this always reported like its the first time a woman every played a game?