Global market up 11% in ’08

Combined video game software unit sales across the world’s three largest games markets grew 11 percent in calendar year 2008 to 409.9 million – up from the 367.7 million units recorded in 2007.

The data comes in new findings from Top Global Markets, the 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.,

The increase in growth comes from both United States and UK, with respective increases of 15 percent and 26 percent. Japan did not fare as well, experiencing a 13 percent decline in 2008, which can largely be attributed to a decline in portable software, followed by console software.

While Japan’s overall gaming software market in 2008 declined, it wasn’t due to poor sales on any current-generation hardware platform. Instead, the decline in Japan was driven by the shrinking PlayStation 2 software market, which experienced a 46 percent decrease in 2008 based on units. According to Enterbrain, sales for Nintendo DS’ Touch Generation software series was also slightly down in 2008.

Looking at the Japanese video game software market by console platform, each system (Sony’s PlayStation 3, Nintendo’s Wii, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360) experienced positive year-over-year growth.

Looking ahead to 2009, a string of star titles are lined up to hit the market, including DS’s Dragon Quest IX: Hoshizora no Mamoribito,” said Ricky K Tanimoto, Global Marketing Analyst, Enterbrain, Inc. There are also big console titles scheduled for release in 2009, such as Monster Hunter 3 and Final Fantasy XIII—leading us to anticipate the console software market will fuel sales of this year’s gaming market.”

The United Kingdom experienced the largest aggregate growth as well as category growth, with console software experiencing a 38 percent gain, and portable software increasing 6 percent. Growth in the United States saw console software growth of 22 percent and portable software growth of 2 percent.

There are some incredible statistics within the Top Global Markets Report that highlight the differences between the three major markets in the world,” said Dorian Bloch, Business Group Director, GfK Chart-Track Limited.

In fact, UK console videogame software units are more than double what was achieved in 2003, which just shows how fast the UK market has been growing. Because of this amazing growth and coupled with the downtown currently being experienced in Japan, the UK market has for the first time overtaken Japan as the No2 world market. Although still behind on revenue, the gap has narrowed considerably and it will be interesting to see how things develop during 2009.”

Continuing the growth of the Video Game industry over the past few years, 2008 software unit sales in the U.S. also saw an increase of 15 percent over 2007, selling over 268.4 million units for the year; nearly 36 million more units than last year,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. Only two months in 2008 saw a decline in unit sales in the U.S., with one due in large part to the release of 360 Halo 3 in Sept’07 and the other due to an additional week in the Jan’07 retail calendar.”

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