UK Games Sales Rose 23% In 2008

7 01 2009

The headline says it all; the BBC report on game sales, sourcing from ELSPA. Games are truly ascending into the mainstream, and without recession they would have done even better.

Sale shopping in late December and early January was very strange this time around. We’d wander into stores after saying “They’ve gone into administration, let’s take a look in there”. Places like Woolworths and Zavvi, while holding fire sales, had the smallest reductions of all on videogames. I would guess this is because they knew that they would sell at retail or wholesale regardless of any discount.

(While searching for a CC image related to record breaking, I found the above one of a very long chip by World of Oddy).

Big Boom

12 09 2008

A couple of stories this week highlighted the current boom in games. Not only were analyst forecasts for UK game sales doubled recently, but Chief Exec of HMV Simon Fox told The Sun:

“Within the next 12 to 18 months, it’s possible games will be bigger than music for us.

“Music is in our DNA and we are totally committed to it. But the fact is, the market is moving away from music — so we are giving more space in our stores to games.”

Mr Fox was speaking as HMV revealed sales from the end of April to last Sunday were up 4.1 per cent on the previous 12 months.

He said computer games enjoyed the fastest growth, thanks to products like Grand Theft Auto IV, Wii Fit, Mario Kart and Brain Training.

He added: “In games, we grew by just over 50 per cent, ahead of the market.”

Speculation has also been flying around that Google will start publishing games. Forbes write:

There’s no question the company wants a part of the $18 billion videogame industry. The real question is: What is it planning to do to get it?

It seems they have the resources and staff in place, including ex-head of SCEA Bernie Stolar.

As ever, it’s good to see games expanding so much. However, publishers remain a massive layer of insulation between developers and profits. This is their job to a certain extent, and not some kind of evil plot, but it means that good times for games as a product are not necessarily good times for game developers. It’ll slowly make it easier for experienced developers to find jobs, but it doesn’t grant much security for studios.

(CC image by Thomas Hawk)

Grand Theft Auto IV

30 04 2008

Grand Theft Auto hit retail on Tuesday, and is expected to eclipse the launch of Halo 3 last year. reports that was receiving 80 orders per minute on launch day (though it doesn’t specify how long for), and Jason Kingsley of Rebellion has spoken up for Britsoft:

“This is world’s biggest launch in the games market and the intellectual property is actually British made, he explained. “I think that’s fantastic. It should be celebrated.”

Mainstream press coverage has been surprisingly positive, if quite formulaic, with much of it devoting a lot of time to “Other forms of entertainment have sex and violence too”. This is old hat for game developers, but nonetheless a vital part of pushing this conceptual framework out into culture. Plenty of editors and writers, along with their audiences, could still do with having this point hammered home.

NPR have said many of the same things, but it’s by far the most thoughtful piece I’ve seen in this vein.

Edit: Richard Bartle has written a fairly crowing but pragmatically brutal piece for the Guardian:

They’re no more concerned about “moral decay” or “aggressive tendencies” or any of the other euphemisms for “ohmygod I don’t understand this” than you are about soap operas.

We’ve definitely hit a turning point in the cultural dialogue, with so many more things emerging that we can point to as “games”. Fears over videogame violence are soon going to seem as irrelevant and niche as the same fears over comics.

DSGi: Games Publisher

7 03 2008

Dixons Store

The DSGi group have announced that they are going into videogames publishing, starting with a casual and PC focus, potentially moving into mobile. They’re looking to engage developers, and are certainly thinking about this along a lot of vectors, including digital distribution. MCV are the only source of an original report right now:

We’re working on a publishing model that will have a retail product and a download product. I’d also love to get a successful product and take it to the platform holders so we can get it on Xbox Live or PlayStation Network.”

Johnson also believes that DSGi’s existing store base and infrastructure combined with innovative new ideas from developers could create a new publishing force to be reckoned with.

“Eventually we could look to partner with companies that have worked in publishing as well as retail and distribution,” he added. “I’ve got a vison of a business model including global publishing deals – if the IP we discover is strong enough, why not?”

Far from settling, the dust is only just beginning to be kicked up with regard to videogames retail and publishing.

“Golden Age of Games”

14 01 2008

Loast Coast

A couple of MCV pieces caught my attention recently. It’s surprising just how well games did up to the end of 2008, particularly as retailers in other sectors were having such a bad time. MCV reported:

In the week that the retail analyst SPSL stated that many days during the Christmas period retail performance were ‘hugely disappointing’, leading specialist retailer GAME revealed that its year-end profits were set to outstrip forecasts and break the £70 million barrier for the first time.

Screen Digest have gone so far to suggest we’re at the cusp of a “Golden Age“:

Dubbing 2008 “a golden year for games retail”, Screen Digest senior games analyst Piers Harding-Rolls said that Nintendo will continue to shine as it seduces non-gamers and Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3’s aspirations as ‘multimedia hubs’ will become a reality within the next 12 months.

“We expect the good trading conditions to continue in 2008 as all three of the latest generation of consoles hit the mainstream consumer head on,” he told MCV.

Competition Commission: Game-Gamestation Merger Concerns

19 09 2007

The Competition Commission have given out more details on their concerns over the merger between Game and Gamestation that we blogged earlier this year. This is their website, and here are direct links to the PDFs of the news release and issues statement.

GAME Profits soar

5 07 2007

It’s only two months since an 80% fall was reported, but in advance of their AGM, GAME have just announced a 74% rise in sales.

A growing base of current-gen systems has eased things somewhat, nonetheless GAME expect margins to shrink:

As we said in April, the higher volumes of new generation platforms will increase hardware participation in the sales mix for the year to January 2008. The substantially lower margins achieved on hardware compared to software will reduce gross margins. The acquisition of Gamestation will also impact margins, as Gamestation has traditionally operated on lower margins than GAME. Taken together, the Board anticipates that gross margin for the half year will be around 230 basis points lower than the same period last year and for the full year will be around 250 basis points lower than last year.