Gaming DNA: what factors matter most in mobile, console, PC games

By John Koetsier March 8, 2024

Why do gamers like certain games and not others? What ingredients should you sprinkle into your game to attract specific types of players? And, how do the big gaming platforms — mobile, console, and PC — differ from each other? Social gaming platform GameTree thinks it has a few answers in its gaming DNA data, and I recently spent some time with founders Dana Sydorenko and John Uke to learn more.

Hit play, keep scrolling …

Gaming, women, and men

Some of the big insights from gaming DNA is that there isn’t that much difference between men and women in terms of gaming. At least for a while.

“From 16 to somewhere around 30 there is almost no significant difference between the proportion of men and women who say that they play games,” says Sydorenko.” But as we get older, somewhere around like 32, we see big differences and this difference increasing: so men keep playing more games and women start playing less.”

gaming DNA men vs women

There are some differences, though. Women are less likely to play PC games, more likely to play Xbox or Switch. And across platforms, men tend to gravitate towards sports and action games, Uke says. They also tend to grind more in difficult games.

“Men like to throw themselves at the wall and fail more often and like … hit their heads a lot more,” Uke says.”

(Yeah, we’re kinda dumb like that.)

Gaming DNA reveals a source of toxicity in gaming

It turns out that the reason people play games and what they’re trying to get out of their gaming experience is probably more important than demographics.

“There’s just different types of fun that everybody has a different blueprint of,” Uke says. “An easy example that most people can agree with, for example, is Dungeons and Dragons: on one side you have power gamers, on the other, you have actors and more casual people. And even though it’s the same game, there’s no right or wrong way to play.”

Mixing styles of gameplay, however, can make gaming together toxic.

“If you mix them together, they’re gonna hate each other and find each other toxic and not have fun,” he adds. “And that’s actually surprisingly a big insight we’ve had as the biggest source of toxicity in gaming now. It’s not anonymity, it’s not trolling. A lot of it is somebody just having a bad day. But honestly, it’s just the wrong people playing together.”

gaming DNA console pc mobile

Which means if you’re going to put groups of people together to game, you have to pay attention to their motivations. Gaming is better with people. It’s more meaningful, and it can last longer. But they have to be the right kind of people for you.

Tinder or Match … for gamers

Because GameTree is a social platform connecting gamers, it asks questions that will help it match the right ones together. Do you like complexity? Are top-notch graphics critical? Do you prefer exploration? OK with grinding, or is it all about instant gratification and excitement?

Interestingly, platforms tend to skew different ways.

  • Console skews towards grinding
  • Console also has the strongest lean to dominance: beating others
  • Mobile and PC both skew to status … feeling better than others
  • Mobile also leans to achievement
  • Nintendo Switch, on the other hand, is the least status-focused platform

A side benefit of understanding gamers and what they like isn’t only learning about where different platforms fit in. You also learn a lot about the games themselves.

“We measured the DNA of the players, but based on the people who like a game, it also gives the DNA of the game itself,” Uke says. “For example, there was a big battle between League of Legends and Dota: which one requires more skill? It’s mostly settled now … it’s Dota. But if you look at GameTree’s data, you can see that people who play Dota have higher difficulty scores on what they like. So it basically mathematically proves that Dota is the more difficult game.”

That’s one reason game publishers and studios often want to check GameTree data to profile their (or a competitor’s) games.

Regional and cross-platform gaming

Interestingly, countries and regions play differently on different platforms as well.

“You know this map of Europe when they separate tomato Europe and potato Europe?” Sydorenko asks. “We can create some sort of map like this for a world where it’s like, oh, this is more PC gamers, this is more like PlayStation gamers, and this is more like console gaming.”

Countries may differ in emphasis, but what’s up everywhere is cross-platform gaming. In fact, most gamers play on multiple platforms.

“82% of gamers play on everything,” Sydorenko says. “They play on mobile and they also play on something else … so if you play on desktop and console, you definitely play on mobile.”

(Note: check out Singular’s cross-platform measurement tools.)

Much more in the full episode

If you haven’t subscribed to Growth Masterminds, now is a good time. You can watch it on YouTube or listen on your favorite podcasting platform.

What we talk about:

  • 00:00 Introduction to Gamer Psychology
  • 00:59 Introducing GameTree and its Founders
  • 01:34 Gender Differences in Gaming
  • 03:22 Platform Preferences and Gaming Patterns
  • 04:58 The Importance of Gaming DNA
  • 06:21 The Social Aspect of Gaming
  • 15:30 The Role of Mobile Gaming
  • 22:38 The Future of Gaming: VR and Blockchain 2
  • 6:39 Women in Gaming
  • 31:51 Conclusion

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