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UK developers turning to online/download games as retail struggles

UK game industry trade body TIGA says 67 percent of local developers are working either exclusively or in part on downloadable games, while the majority of recently established studios are focused on only downloadable and/or online games.
UK game industry trade body TIGA says 67 percent of local developers are working either exclusively or in part on downloadable games, while the majority of recently established studios are focused on only downloadable and/or online games. The figures come as game retailers in the UK face shrinking revenues and increasing challenges in staying open -- Game Group recently said it suffered "an incredibly tough 2011," and plans to close 60 locations in the country before the end of the year. Music, video, and game retailer HMV also said in December that its significant losses and declining revenues cast "significant doubt on [its ability] to continue" (though it was able to improve its financial position after negotiating with its banking syndicate a few weeks ago). And GameStop recently closed all of its shops in Northern Ireland, and intends to eventually end its brick and mortar business in the UK as it transitions into an online-only operation in the region. As retailers struggle, TIGA says that from 2008 to 2011, new studios making titles for that market accounted for less than a fifth of game startups in the UK -- the rest worked on "network games," or social games, mobile titles, MMOs, and other online projects. Its new report, Making Games in the UK Today, found that 71 percent of startups established during that period developed downloadable and/or online titles exclusively, while 10 percent worked on both packaged and network games. Along with noting that 80 percent of UK game startups setup in 2010 and 2011 were independent developers, TIGA predicts network gaming will grow by 21 percent every year until 2015, while retail gaming will fall by more than 3 percent each year until then.

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