60%-70% of casual game players today are females over the age of 30.

Video games aren’t just for the South Park set anymore.

Video games seem like a good marketing tool for reaching young males. But measuring in-game ads has been tough until recently, keeping video games from becoming more than a niche marketing tool.

Now, advertisers, game developers and console manufacturers are getting a better look at who plays their games. Greater connectivity and digital rights management technologies reveal that although there are still plenty of young male console gamers, casual gamers are predominantly female, according to an Information Solutions Group study commissioned by PopCap Games.

Ran Cohen of in-game ad firm Eyeblaster says that "the whole industry of the downloadable casual game is female-oriented." He noted that 60%-70% of casual game players are females over 30.

While other industry experts also point to a demographic shift in the gaming population, available data still support the stereotypical view of a male-dominated industry. An Ipsos Insight study commissioned by the Entertainment Software Association showed that 62% of US computer and video game players are male, while 38% are female.

A study of gamer demographics by Universal McCann revealed more male than female players for consoles in particular. Fewer casual games are made for consoles than are made for other gaming platforms.

eMarketer Senior Analyst Paul Verna notes that "generally speaking, the more ‘hardcore’ the gamer, the more likely he is to be male, and conversely, the casual gamer will tend to skew female."

"With the explosive growth in casual games over the past few years, it’s no surprise that the gaming population, overall, is beginning to strike a more even gender balance than it had previously, when it was oriented heavily toward young males," says Mr. Verna. "This shift is creating opportunities for marketers to reach highly coveted demographic segments that in the past were not readily associated with video games."

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