New game-related statistics, printed in UK trade paper MCV and relayed from from survey firm Screen Digest, have given a rare insight into hardware sales across Europe. Although the figures are largely in-line with long-held assumptions about the European market, they do hold some interesting surprises.
In particular, the installed hardware user base for each of the current generation consoles, as of March 31st 2005, includes the PlayStation 2 at 25.1 million, the Game Boy Advance: 15.4 million (with 8.0m for the GBA, and 7.4m for the GBA SP), the Xbox at 5.2 million units, and the GameCube at 3.9 million units. The Nintendo DS, having only just launched at the time of the survey, was at 0.3 million units, and the survey also notes that the original PlayStation was the largest single European platform, with 29.2 million units.
Sell-through figures for 2004, compared to 2003, are down 9 percent for the PlayStation, up 7 percent for the Xbox and down 23 percent for the GameCube, according to the report. Overall, the hardware market across Europe has been down 9 percent over the last year, although with few other figures to go by, this may simply be due to the current generation of consoles being in their final years.
General wisdom usually has it that Germany is the largest single market in Europe, but Screen Digest’s figures show that the biggest is in fact the UK, followed by Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Scandinavia. The PC market is particularly vibrant in Germany though, and much less important in the UK, which would account for the discrepancy in these rankings. More information is available in Screen Digest's full report
released in March, and named: 'European Interactive Games: The 2005 State of the Industry Report'.
Over the course of the next generation, many analysts expect the PAL-compatible game market (which includes Europe, Australasia, the Middle East and Africa) to exceed North America as the largest single market in the world. However, the difficulties with multiple different languages, cultures and laws are still likely to make North America and Japan more initially accessible markets for both hardware manufacturers and software publishers.