Do you think we're about to see a vogue of female-focused game titles?
First, there's rumblings like this article on finding the feminine side of computers and how gaming companies are all aware that the next ramping up of income is likely to come from a female playerbase. In the same vein there's that chap from EA confirming their interest in the female dollar. Then there's reviews extolling the Nancy Drew series of games, a series aimed primarily at 12-15 year old girls. Not to mention all the rabidly pink consoles popping up all over the place.
But most obviously, there are now FIVE count 'em, five explicitly 'female-friendly' titles in the US PC top ten. Franchised to the hilt, admittedly, but here we have it: The Sims 2, Nancy Drew: Danger By Design, The Sims 2: Open For Business, The Sims 2: Family Fun Stuff, and Paws & Claws Pet Vet.
I'm focusing on the explicit here, because obviously plenty of females play World of Warcraft, for instance. Not half the playerbase, and it's certainly not marketed to females, but still. I'm talking about games that are designed from the outset to attract females, and games that are marketed to some degree in female media.
So five PC games in the top ten. This feels new, but I had a rummage around - has this changed significantly from a few years ago? Well actually.. not so much. Here's the chart from August 2004:
1) Madden NFL 2004
2) The Sims: Superstar
3) Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight
4) Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne
5) The Sims Deluxe
6) Zoo Tycoon: Complete Collection
7) Diablo 2
8) Age of Mythology
9) Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
10) The Sims: Unleashed
Three Sims franchises again - good lord, how much money has EA made on this series already? - and a Zoo Tycoon collection.
So if we're seeing a beginning of a move towards grabbing that billion dollar market made of lovely ladies, it's a tentative start, with the non-Sims titles cautiously tiptoeing towards the teenage girl set first. Easy target, a large proportion of them already have a handheld and a mobile.
Retail will have to smarten up its act, of course - high street gaming shops are universally stinky, sweaty places with chewing gum ground into the carpet. Marketing too - banner ad spend on mainstream-friendly sites like Neopets, MySpace or Pogo or MSN.com will have to go up. Ach, it doesn't feel like rocket science, does it?