Global games market growth goes flat in Q3

Combined video game software unit sales across the world’s three largest games markets experienced growth of just one percent during the third quarter of 2008.

The flat performance can largely be attributed to a weakening in the Japanese software market, where sales declined 21 per cent from Q2. However, the UK shone – with a 15 per cent growth in overall unit sales.

The figures come in a new Q3 release from Top Global Markets – the integrated monthly report from leading providers of retail information in the global games industry: The NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track Limited and Enterbrain.

Growth in the UK was skewed, with console software experiencing a 26 percent gain, and portable software declining one percentage point.

Growth in the United States was more evenly balanced, up eight per cent – with console software growth of six percent and portable software growth of ten per cent.

Only the US experienced an increase in growth over third quarter 2007 (eight percent in Q3 2008 vs. five percent in Q3 2007). The UK experienced a 34 percent increase during the same time period last year.

The largest decline in Japan was experienced by console software, followed by portable software, with respective losses of 33 per cent and 13 per cent. These results are in sharp contrast to the 27 per cent increase in total video game software sales generated in Japan in Q3 last year.

Japan did experience sales declines in both software categories, but it is important to keep in mind that not only is Japan a more mature market than the U.S. and UK, but 2007 was a banner year for the Japanese software market, with the titles released in the third quarter of 2008 not being as highly anticipated as those released during the same time period in 2007,” said Ricky K Tanimoto, Global Marketing Analyst, Enterbrain, Inc.

Also, software titles generally have stronger launch sales in Japan, which represent a large percentage of the total sales in Japan compared to the US. and UK.

"In regards to expectations for the remainder of the calendar year, we estimate overall video game sales in Japan this holiday season will not be greatly affected by the world financial crisis, especially in the portable space. Portable software sales are particularly strong, and new portable hardware systems like Sony’s PSP-3000 and Nintendo’s DSi will prove to be driving market forces in Japan throughout the 2008 holiday season.”

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