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Global Video Game Market Analysis - 2009

Ben Parfitt
Global Video Game Market Analysis - 2009

According to recent findings from Top Global Markets, an integrated monthly report from leading providers of consumer and retail information in the video games industry, The NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track Limited and Enterbrain, Inc., combined video game software unit sales across the world’s three largest games markets experienced a decline of 8 percent in calendar year 2009* (Jan.-Dec.), totaling 379.3 million units.

The declines were more modest in Japan, which experienced a 2 percent decline in software units (5 percent decline in console software and a 1 percent decline in portable game software). The United States and UK saw respective declines of 7 percent and 14 percent. In the U.S., console and portable software experienced respective declines of 7 percent and 8 percent, while UK units saw respective declines of 6 percent and 25 percent.

Continuing the trend from 2008, the overall gaming software market in 2009 declined in large part due to the shrinking PlayStation 2 software market, which experienced a 57 percent decrease across the top global markets in 2009 based on units (U.S. -56 percent; UK -67 percent; Japan -55 percent).

Japan

“Japan's 2009 game software market was blessed with a string of Nintendo DS software hits during the period, including the trio of double-million-plus sellers, Dragon Quest IX: Hoshizora no Mamoribito, Pocket Monster Heart Gold/Soul Silver, and the year's most successful non-sequel, Tomodachi Collection, which sold 2 million units,” said Mitsunobu Uwatoko, manager of global marketing, Enterbrain, Inc. “Moreover, Final Fantasy XIII, Wii Sports Resort, and Wii Fit Plus, sold over a million each on top of the long-awaited New Super Mario Bros. Wii selling over 2.4 million during its first month at retail.

However, these titles could not manage to recover the losses experienced during the first half of the year, thus the annual total sales was slightly down.”

United Kingdom


“For the UK videogame home console software market it is clear that current generation systems suffered slight negative growth overall in 2009, even though PS3 and 360 both enjoyed record volume (and value) software sales for the year, and were the only formats to exhibit positive growth over 2008,” said Dorian Bloch, Business Group Director, GfK Chart-Track Limited.

“Growth on these platforms did not manage to offset the steep decline in PS2 software units (-67%), which in real terms was close to a decline of 4 million units. Also, the incredible performance exhibited by Nintendo's Wii in 2008 meant that Wii units fell back 10 percent, although remained the number one format in terms of units sold in 2009.

Within the portable market, it is clear that this is the reason for the overall console software decline. Nintendo DS volume (and value) sales in 2008 reached a high point brought about by massive, record-breaking DS Lite sales, and the corresponding sales of hit titles such as 'Dr Kawashima,' 'Mario & Sonic at the Olympics,' 'New Super Mario,' and 'Mario Kart DS.'

Rolling on to 2009 saw much lower DS hardware sell-through and no new must-have DS titles at the top of the charts, apart from 'Professor Layton and Pandora's Box.'  Sony’s PSP suffered a similar fate, with few must-have titles arriving in 2009, and a continued decline in PSP hardware sales, ever since the sweet spot achieved in 2006 with the original PSP.”

United States

“Looking at software sales performance, video game software unit sales declined seven percent for all of 2009. Still, while year-over-year comparisons show declines, the industry is still boasting significant volumes that were unseen before 2008,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group.

“With the huge investment needed to produce software for this generation’s consoles, many publishers talk about releasing fewer titles each year which will allow their teams to better focus on maximizing the success of each title. The theory is that this will produce more high quality games resulting in better sales. However, the year end data from 2009 shows us that the number of titles entering the market is still growing. 778 new titles were released in 2009, up from the 764 in 2008.

So, while there has been no noticeable slow down in the number of titles launched each year, we do see some evidence of a converse relationship between the number of titles launched and the average unit sales of a title. When looking back at the past 7 years, we see that 2004 had the lowest number of titles launched, yet the highest average unit sales. On the other hand, 2009 had the most titles launched and average unit sales were lower than they’ve been since 2005.”

2009 Top 5 Video Game Titles Top Global Markets Report
Ranked By Units**



Source: Top Global Markets Report / Retail Tracking Service
**Unit sales figures rounded – due to rounding, the sum of the individual countries may not equal the Total for certain titles

*Methodology
Top Global Markets Report is an integrated monthly report from leading providers of consumer and retail information in the video games industry, The NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track Limited and Enterbrain, Inc.  It provides integrated point-of-sale data for console video game software sales in the world’s largest games markets. Like-for-like annual comparisons mean that only the first 52 weeks of 2009 are included here (2009 was a 53 week year in the UK retail calendar, the last time this happened was in 2004)

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