2008 Global Market Analysis


2008 Market Value (2007 in brackets)
UK – 4.03bn (3.40bn) year-on-year +18.5%
USA – 14.89bn (12.51bn) year-on-year +19%
Japan – 4.55bn (5.37bn) year-on-year -15%

These numbers show that the USA remains by far the single largest video games market in the world, bettering the value of the UK and Japanese markets combined by more than double.

It’s also the largest growing market year-on-year, with 2008’s value up 19 per cent on the year before – though do note that the growth of the games market in the country has slowed considerably, with 2007 previously showing an incredible 43 per cent increase on the year before.

It may surprise some that the Japanese market continues to be worth more than the UK market. Why this should surprise is hard to say – not only is Japan’s population over double that of the UK’s, but gaming is (for the time being, at least) far more ingrained in the nation’s culture and identity than in the UK.

However, whilst the Japanese market was worth over 500m more than the UK in 2008, it also suffered a worrying 15.3 per cent decrease compared to 2007. The UK market, in contrast, enjoyed growth of 18.5 per cent, just a shade behind the US market.

In fact, if the same rates of growth and decline occur in 2009, the UK market will be worth 4.77bn – almost a whole billion more than the Japanese market (3.86bn). Could 2009 be the year the UK becomes the second most valuable games market in the world?

Despite the fall seen in Japan, the combined growth in value of the three territories showed an overall increase of 10 per cent year-on-year.


UK 2008 unit sales by format
360 – 1.4m
PS3 – 1m
Wii – 2.9m

USA 2008 unit sales by format
360 – 4.8m
PS3 – 3.7m
Wii – 10.2m

Japan 2008 unit sales by format
360 – 318k
PS3 – 991k
Wii – 2.9m

Total 2008 sales by format (UK, USA and Japan)
360 – 6.518m
PS3 – 5.691m
Wii – 16m

It’s hardly surprising to see that Wii dominates the home console market in all three territories. Interestingly, Nintendo’s machine is most dominant in its homeland, where it captures 68 per cent of the home console market, way ahead of the three region’s combined market share of 56 per cent. The Wii performs equally in both the UK and USA, capturing 54 per cent.

By contrast, Xbox 360 captured 23 per cent of the total combined market of the three territories, and the PS3 20 per cent.

Wii’s 16m unit sales across the three regions make it by far the star performer. As Xbox 360 enters its third year on the market, total annual sales of 6.5m will surely be seen as a success by Microsoft. What Sony will make of PS3’s 5.7m sales at this stage of the machine’s life is harder to guess.

Do note too that in Japan both the DS and PSP outsold their home console cousins by considerable margins – in this case Nintendo’s machine sold 4m units and the PSP 3.5m.


UK Top Five
1. FIFA 09 – EA*
2. Mario Kart Wii – Nintendo*
3. Grand Theft Auto IV – Rockstar*
4. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games – Sega*
5. Wii Fit – Nintendo*
* MCV is unable to publish UK 2008 sales figures for individual titles

US Top Five (sales in brackets)
1. Wii Play – Nintendo (5.28m)
2. Madden NFL 09 – EA (5.25m)
3. Grand Theft Auto IV – Rockstar (5.22m)
4. Mario Kart Wii –Nintendo (5m)
5. Call of Duty: World at War – Activision Blizzard (4.63m)

JAPAN Top Five (sales in brackets)
1. Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G – Capcom (2.5m)
2. Pokemon Platinum – Pokemon Company (2.2m)
3. Wii Fit – Nintendo (2.1m)
4. Mario Kart Wii – Nintendo (2m)
5. Super Smash Bros Brawl – Nintendo (1.7m)

As with the hardware results, the software charts were full of good news for Nintendo. As well as being the only publisher to feature in the top five of all three territories, the company’s Mario Kart Wii is the only individual title to do the same.

There’s also big success for Wii Fit, which just misses out on the top five in the US but performs admirably in both the UK and Japan. In fact, the only publisher aside from Nintendo to see a game in the top five of more than one country is Rockstar, whose Grand Theft Auto IV was an undoubted worldwide success.

Outside the universal appeal of the above titles, there are also a number of more regionally specific successes. EA can rightfully claim to have captured the lion’s share of the lucrative football market in the UK, as well as the American football market in the US, with FIFA 09 and Madden 09 respectively.

Japan’s fascination with all things Pokemon continues, too, though Nintendo’s title is robbed of the top spot by Capcom’s PSP phenomenon Monster Hunter Portable 2G.

The numbers used are calculated from a combination of both annual and combined monthly figures from ELSPA Gfk-ChartTrack (UK), NPD (USA) and Enterbrain (Japan)

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