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The Euro Vision: 10 Percent Jump In UK Sales

Will 2007 be a record-breaking year for UK game sales? Early signs from its first quarter seem to point in that direction, as Jon Jordan crunches the numbers for a year already up 10 percent over 2006, in his latest edition of Gamasutra's regular column,
Amazing as it seems, we're already almost a quarter of the way through the year, so it seems like a reasonable opportunity to take our first comparative view of the performance of the UK games market in 2007. Initial signs are impressive with sales for the period January to March up around 10 percent compared to 2006. PlayStation 3's UK launch a fortnight ago means the period could be considered rather unrepresentative for what is usually a quiet time in the retail calendar. Still, even when stripping out PlayStation 3 sales - the top 5 games of which were Resistance, MotorStorm, Formula 1: Championship Edition, Call of Duty 3 and Ridge Racer 7 - the first 12 weeks of 2007 would still have comfortably beaten sales in two of the three previous years. Ironically, the launch of DS on the 11th March 2005 created its own unrepresentative sales blip, meaning a PS3-less Q1 2007 probably wouldn't have outsold a Q1 2005 that included DS game sales. Still, the extra £30-odd million ($59 million) generated by three weeks of DS software sales in 2005 overshadows one week of £15-odd million ($30 million) PlayStation 3 game sales in 2007, so our overall conclusion that 2007 is shaping up to be the best year for UK game retailers remains intact. Scores On The Doors In terms of rough numbers, the situation for the total UK games sales in the first 12 weeks of the year, stacks up as such; 2007: £310 million ($612 million) 2006: £275 million ($543 million) 2005: £290 million ($573 million) 2004: £260 million ($514 million) Of course, as well as PlayStation 3, another part of the reason for this strong performance is that UK gamers have only recently got their hands on high profile PlayStation 2 games such as Final Fantasy XII, which dominated the US charts last Christmas. On that score, we're still waiting for the likes of God of War II and SOCOM U.S Navy Seals Combined Assault. But as has happened in North America - which experienced a year-on-year boost in February sales of 28 percent (up from $345 million in 2006 to $441 million in 2007) - sales of Xbox 360 titles such as Lost Planet, Crackdown and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 have also boosted the UK's underlying figures. This can be most clearly seen when considering the total number of games sold during the first 12 weeks of the year. 2007's total of around 15 million units sold compares strongly with around 13 million in 2006, 13.5 million in 2005 and 12 million in 2004. Interestingly, this year-on-year growth in terms of volume is even slightly better than that experienced in terms of growth in the value of overall sales, which is perhaps surprising considering the transition between console generations is almost over. The higher price of nextgen games should mean the trend between market value and market volume is inverted. The Price Of A Game However, comparing the average price paid for a game - around £20 ($40) for the first 12 weeks of 2007, £21 ($41) in 2006, £20 ($40) in 2005 and £21.5 ($42.5) in 2004 - it's clear that this value-to-volume trend will take some time to reverse. Indeed, the high volumes of cheap DS games such as Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training and Nintendogs (both £20, ($40)) being sold, as well as the long tail of sub-£20 ($40) PlayStation 2 games, may compensate for the increasing sales of £40 ($79) Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games for much of the year. Still, demonstrating the power of next gen, during the week of PlayStation 3's launch, the average price of a game sold in the UK jumped to £26.50 ($52.4), a figure only beaten during the last four years by the £26.75 ($52.8) level reached by the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in October 2004. Note: In terms of the veracity of the figures in this article, they're accumulated from the weekly output of retail research company Chart Track, which bases its estimates using over-the-counter sales information from the majority of UK brick-and-mortar stores. Online sales and downloads aren't included in these figures. Now this is a bit of a debating point but with main UK game retailer GAME Group accounting for a mere 2.4 percent of overall sales via its online channels (roughly £15 million ($30 million) of total sales of £650 million ($1.3 billion)), the year-on-year growth in the online sales of retail boxed games probably isn't big enough to seriously affect the figures. (Downloadable games whether PC, mobile or via console are another matter entirely however.) [Jon Jordan is a freelance games journalist and photographer, based in Manchester, UK. Like everyone else in the world, he strongly believes he has a better than average sense of humour.]

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