The UK games market’s weekly value has fallen to its lowest point in years, according to GfK Chart-Track.
Last week the games market was worth £13.5 million, a 24 per cent drop compared to the week before. Unit sales also fell heavily, down 21 per cent to 650,382 games sold.
Industry experts have been quick to cite multiple reasons for the fall. Chart-Track point out that it’s been a far quieter Easter in terms of new releases than previous years, while analyst Nick Parker suggests consumers are trending towards free-to-play social and casual games.
Meanwhile, CHIPS joint MD Don McCabe believes the General Election could be affecting consumer confidence, while the warm weather could also be having an impact by keeping buyers outdoors.
“Essentially it comes down to what is being released,” said Chart-Track senior account manager Chris Poole.
“Easter was relatively quiet really, and many people will be holding back for the big titles to come. I also imagine it is a combination of things, such as the weather.
“We’re also coming down from the big highs of Modern Warfare 2 and the like, it is understandable the market would hit an eventual low.
“But aside from that, there are no big indicators for the reason behind the fall. Week 16 last year was a lot higher, and there were no major releases that week either.”
Analyst Nick Parker added: “The market for boxed games software has been in decline for fifteen months now in Europe so we have to examine the whole market trend.
“The bottom line is that more and more tweens and teenagers are on MSN and Facebook playing social games, than they are playing core traditional games.
“Another impact on market value this year has been the paucity of peripheral-based music games, which declined steeply from 2008. Finally, the recession has not helped.”
A lack of new console hardware has also been blamed.
The lowest level the market has reached in recent years was during the summer of 2006, when weekly sales fell to £10.2 million.
At this stage in the generation cycle, the Xbox 360 was the only new home console on the market, with Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PS3 yet to arrive.
Despite the fall, it is expected that the market will bounce back next week with the arrival of EA’s 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“FIFA always does well,” continued Poole.
“Especially with the excitement of the closing of the football season and the anticipation for the upcoming World Cup.”