Video Game Sales Down Eight Percent In ‘Transition Year’

Game publishers’ financials had already told us the video games industry is in something of a slump – now complete sales figures from the world’s three biggest markets show us how much

Game sales in the U.S., UK and Japan fell eight percent in 2009 to 379.3 million, according to the Top Global Markets report from the NPD Group, GfK ChartTrack and Enterbrain, which have a sales-reporting alliance in those countries respectively.

The alliance says it’s “in large part due to the shrinking PlayStation 2 software market”, game sales for which are naturally down 57 percent now that the console, which had a large installed base, has been superseded by PS3. Wii also posted exceptional 2008 sales that weren’t followed up.

But it’s a mixed picture from continent to continent – Japanese game sales declined modestly (two percent), and U.S. sales somewhat (seven percent), but UK sales tumbled 14 percent.

— NPD analyst Anita Frazier: “Still, while year-over-year comparisons show declines, the industry is still boasting significant volumes that were unseen before 2008.”

— GfK director Dorian Bloch: “For the UK videogame home console software market it is clear that current generation systems suffered slight negative growth overall in 2009, even though PS3 and 360 both enjoyed record volume (and value) software sales for the year.”


Ubisoft EMEA MD Alain Corre tells 2009 was “a transition year”, 2010 will stabilise and 2011 will return to growth, citing the drop-off in music game sales as a big factor (see my recent interview with MTV Games SVP Paul DeGooyer for more on that).

Says Corre: “Only the triple-A-quality games will sell, but these games can sell many more units than they were selling before.”