UK games market slumps again

PS4 and Xbox One consoles are flying off shelves, but the games are not following them.

UK boxed games sales this week reached just 13.6m, a figure more suited to July, not the middle of October (GfK Chart-Track figures).

For the month of October, UK boxed game sales hit 78m, with just 2.23m game sold. This is a drop of seven per cent compared to the same period in 2013. Overall, boxed software sales in the UK are down by almost 15 per cent year-to-date. In contrast, sales of home consoles are up by over 125 per cent.

I think everyone – including retailers – has been focusing on hardware,” said Shop Direct merchandiser David Firth. The manufacturers are trying to grow the install base quickly.We’re in a place where next-gen doesn’t have the install base yet to drive software volume and last-gen owners are not incentivised to buy titles for their ageing formats.

Finally, we are yet to see any triple-A titles on next gen at sub-40 prices. I’m sure someone will make a move soon.”

A buyer at a major games retailer added: A lot of focus is coming on the console side. But those are low margin, we would hope for more from the software side. November looks strong, so let’s not write the year off yet.”

GAME expects sales of games (digital and physical) to grow by almost 200m this year versus 2013. But it admits that the faster those consoles are sold, the better it will be for everyone.

The install base of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is 1.8m, versus a total install base for Xbox 360 and PS4 of 14.4m, so the difference there points to a market that is still in its infancy,” said GAME CEO Martyn Gibbs.We are now seeing that the hardware growth is faster than we expected, which is great news because we have a bigger population to sell content too. The most important thing is that the more people who own the console, the better.”

Chart-Track director Dorian Bloch says he expects boxed game unit sales to be down five per cent for 2014, but revenue will be flat, possibly even up one per cent. There’s a way to go,” he said.

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