UK games execs were left scratching their heads last month after a string of big budget action games failed to lift games retail out of the gloom.
Last month UK games stores sold 1,854,954 games, a drop of 19.9% over February 2012. And that's despite big name releases including Dead Space 3, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Crysis 3.
In fact, the combined sales of those four games managed less than 275,000 units last month.
In total, stores generated 45.3m from software sales, a slightly softer drop of 17.6 per cent.
The turmoil on the High Street, driven by store closures at Blockbuster and HMV, will not have helped.
But the poor performances of new titles has still surprised many corners of the trade.
It's bleak out there,” said one UK publisher boss. Nothing is selling as it should. Let's hope next month's titles can break through.”
Aliens: Colonial Marines was the top seller last month. The action title was not well received by critics, but the title managed to find an audience, driven by Sega's marketing campaign.
Sega was the second best performing publisher of February, nestled behind EA – its top seller was Dead Space 3 at No.2.
Retailers will now be looking to March's blockbusters to help arrest the market slowdown. The first is Tomb Raider, which was released this week. Square Enix says it wants the action title to be a Top Five title of 2013, so expectations are high.
BioShock: Infinite is also due later this month, and the 2K game is subject to huge press attention.
Meanwhile, there's some overdue big titles for PC, 3DS and Wii U games this month, including the likes of SimCity, Luigi's Mansion 2 and LEGO City Undercover.
All data is courtesy of UKIE/GfK?Chart-Track. And is for the four weeks ending February 23rd, 2013.
THE FEBRUARY TOP TEN
1. Aliens: Colonial Marines – Sega
2. Dead Space 3 – EA
3. FIFA 13 – EA
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops II – Activision
5. Far Cry 3 – Ubisoft
6. Crysis 3 – EA
7. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Konami
8. Assassin's Creed III – Ubisoft
9. Need for Speed: Most Wanted – EA
10. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – Namco Bandai