Thursday, 6 January 2011

Is British Gaming Losing Its Appeal?

According to the latest sales figures released by the UK's leading videogames trade body, UKIE, British sales of video games and gaming peripherals has fallen by at least 29% in the last two years.

The sales report shows that overall videogame sales for 2010 totalled just £2.875 billion. These figures mark a 29% drop from 2008's figure of £4.034 billion.

Worryingly, these figures also support claims from some entertainment retailers who say that the recent Christmas sales of entertainment goods including video games have been disappointing, prompting some stores to contemplate partial closure.

For example, retailing giant, HMV recently announced that they were planning to close around sixty of their highstreet stores due to poor sales, and they also admitted that they expected to miss their profit targets for the full year, which could have totalled as much as £60 million.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that whilst the latest UKIE report includes sales of videogame software, hardware and accessories across several different platforms, it does not include any information on the overall sales of social games (such as those found on social networking sites), mobile gaming Apps, Downloadable Content (DLC) and second-hand sales, which were all believed to be very popular in 2010.

UKIE's director general Mike Rawlinson stated that:  "The UK videogames market has something for everyone, with the market expanding into new areas, particularly online, on mobile phones and on other interactive devices... Thanks to continued innovation from games publishers and developers more and more people are playing games. With one in three people now considering themselves gamers, interactive entertainment is increasingly part of everyone's everyday lives." [cited:]

UKIE claims that it is optimistic about the videogames industry to date and also highlighted the record-breaking performance of Call of Duty: Black Ops, which shifted two million units and brought in £82 million during its first five days on sale.

Sony's PSP go console has already recognised the shift towards Downloadable Content. The PSP go has a built in hard-drive so that gamers can download various media including videos, comics and games onto the device via the Playstation Network Store rather than purchasing expensive UMD discs used by the older-style PSPs.

Thus, it could be argued that videogame sales are not actually falling, but that the nature by which gamers are choosing to purchase their video games and peripherals is beginning to change, with many gamers now choosing to purchase their games as downloadable content via the Internet.

This change may not have been accurately reflected in UKIE's findings, but it could represent a wider shift in the video games industry as we know it. However, the true rammifications of this shift towards internet-based gaming on the videogames industry is as yet unknown.


Is gaming becoming less appealing in your opinion? What might the shift towards Downloadable Content and Internet gaming mean for the rest of the gaming industry? As a gamer, do you prefer to buy or download games?

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