Was 2010 gaming’s record year?

The need for a sales chart that integrates both physical and digital sales has never been greater.

The industry has been living under the assumption that following the record performances posted in 2008 the market has been suffering a steady rate of decline. But the problem is that our market figures are still gauged by the likes of GfK Chart-Track and NPD and rely purely on High Street boxed sales.

This completely ignores the thriving digital market. And with the likes of Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Facebook and the App Store becoming increasingly important by the day, our numbers are becoming irrelevant.

Industry Gamers reports that publisher EA now believes that digital sales account for 40 per cent of the overall games market. If we take that claim at face value, then 2010’s market – in which digital played its biggest role yet – are far more promising.

GfK Chart-Track valued the 2010 UK games market at 2.88bn. That’s less than the 3.31bn value attributed to 2009 and far below the record 4.034bn posted in 2008.

However, factor in EA’s digital claims and the 2010 UK market would actually have been worth 4.032b – just shy of the 2008 record.

The US numbers are even more impressive. Factoring in digital in 2010 the sector hit a value of $25.9bn. That’s far ahead of NPD’s official $18.5bn estimate and even exceeds the record $21.33bn figure released for 2008.

Of course, there are important things to note here. Firstly, even if the 40 per cent figure is correct it’s probably erroneous to apply it blindly to all regions. But an analysis with such a wide brush is not without interest and certainly gives the industry important food for thought.

Secondly, the 2008 and 2009 numbers clearly omit digital as well. Though digital sales would likely have been significantly higher last year than at any stage before, it’s certainly true to say that the 2008 and 2009 numbers also need upsizing by an unspecified percentage to be accurate.

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