Women outnumber men by a huge margin on Pokemon Go
Pokemon games have always been a hit with all genders, but recent demographic data from SurveyMonkey suggests that in the weeks since release, men are now a distinct minority in Pokemon Go, comprising just 37% of users in the United States.
Forbes paints an even clearer picture of the SurveyMonkey stats, suggesting that the majority of players are aged 18-29 and make under $50,000 a year. All this runs pretty counter to our stereotypical image of the game enthusiast as a spoiled teen boy -- not only do 13-17-year-olds come in as only the third largest demographic in Forbes's chart, adult players seem largely like ordinary working people, going to jobs and catchin' some 'mons on their smoke breaks.
Perhaps this doesn't surprise you, because you've been seeing the fandom output on Twitter, Tumblr and homemade goods marketplaces like Storenvy and Etsy, all currently flooded with Pokemon fanart, handmade jewelry, keychains, and 3D-printed Pokedex battery cases. On top of cresting to about 25 million daily active users on July 14th, there are entire cottage economies sprouting up as a result of the game, many in fan spaces where women, non-binary people and sexual minorities of all stripes tend to congregate. This all seemed to reach a fever pitch this past weekend with the release of new information and portraits for Pokemon Go's three team leaders, only one of which appears visibly masculine:
Whether character designer Yusuke Kozaki (who also designed the cast for the two most recent Fire Emblem games) was trying for an inclusive approach with his designs is a matter for speculation. Niantic CEO John Haske, at least, would not appear to have expected such a pronounced response among non-male fans, telling Forbes that he would be "surprised if that were true" upon hearing SurveyMonkey's statistics. He notes Niantic itself doesn't track biographical data on players (apart from asking for a birthdate, for COPPA compliance). And it's certainly true that third party analytics firms like SurveyMonkey may be working on incomplete or simply flawed information, depending on access and methodology.
So how did SurveyMonkey, and to a greater degree Forbes with its widely-circulated infographic (top), arrive at the conclusion that Pokemon Go players are 63% women? SurveyMonkey Intelligence mobile product manager Robbie Allan explains that the company collects its data from a panel of more than a million smartphone users spread across iOS and Android devices in the U.S., then extrapolates from there to produce a national average. This panel is opt-in, meaning users agree to share their data with SurveyMonkey, which would include personal information like age and gender.
Obviously there are flaws intrinsic to any surveying method, even with a huge sample size like this one. It should be clear, for instance, that SurveyMonkey only tracks two genders -- because gendered advertising is A Hell Of A Thing, like as not. SurveyMonkey at least appears to ask for that information, rather than just inferring based on a user's behavior. By contrast, Twitter's analytics regularly tell me most of my followers are male, even when I know that's not the case, because Twitter has deemed an interest in games and technology to be a guy thing, period.
So is SurveyMonkey's data (and Forbes's analysis of it) accurate? Broadly, yes, most likely. Down to the percentage point? Almost certainly not. But what we can take from this is a pretty reliable sketch of who is playing Pokemon Go, and the answer is almost definitely: lots of dudes, yes, but way more people who are not dudes. Smashing.