Mobile gaming is a big deal. Free mobile games, even more so. It's why news of the Android flavor of Fortnite bypassing the Google Play Store is such a big deal, and it's also why Microsoft ships copies of Windows 10 with Candy Crush tagging along for the ride (which isn't mobile, strictly speaking, but it counts).
But such games are "free" only by name; in-app-purchases (IAPs) for cosmetics, weapons and power-ups are huge moneymakers for the studios that utilize them, as long as they don't go full EA. These aren't usually necessary to play the games to a satisfying degree, but some games tend to take them too far, earning themselves the unfortunate label of "pay-to-win".
Drawing from 350 popular gaming apps (58% of these from iOS and 42% from Android), a recent study from mobile marketing firm Liftoff takes a look at the demographic that indulges in making IAPs to augment their gaming experience, as well as touching upon those who prefer not to.
Interestingly, when it comes to the former, the scales weigh overwhelmingly in favor of women and iOS users - the 10.8% IAP conversion rate for Android is grossly outmatched by the 21% that iOS claims. It backs these numbers up with evidence from other sources, too.
Data provider App Annie reports that while Android users made up about 70% of total app downloads in 2017, they generated only 34% of total consumer app revenue. While this is a sizable number, it is rather disproportionate, given that as of 2017, there are 2 billion monthly active devices running the OS.
The gender divide, on the other hand, leaves 52% of men and 48% of women playing mobile games at least once a month, based on data from games research firm Newzoo. Despite this, IAP conversion rates are 26% higher for women than for men, and moreover, the install-to-purchase rate for women is an astounding 79% higher than it is for men.
Another recent study by Newzoo reveals that 60% of women who play games on mobile platforms feel that less than 30% of these games are made for them, which shouldn't be too much of a surprise: the same study says that of the top 100 grossing games on Google Play, 44% more app icons feature male characters than female ones.