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Report – Global game unit sales declined by 8% in 2009

Wednesday, 3rd February 2010 14:54 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

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GfK-ChartTrack has released a report on the state of global gaming in 2009, and found that unit sales declined by 8 percent worldwide, totaling 379.3 million units.

The monthly report, titled Top Global Markets, combines figures from cross the world’s three largest games markets using The NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track Limited and Enterbrain, Inc. information and combing all unit sales.

The declines were more modest in Japan, which saw a 2 percent drop in software units, with 5 percent decline in console software and a 1 percent in portable software.

US software sales declined 7 percent, with console and portable software dropping 7 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

The UK saw an overall decline in software of 14 percent with a 6 percent drop for console and and 25 percent drop for handhelds.

According to the report, the 2009 decline was continued from 2008 largely due to the diminishing market for PS2 which saw a 57 percent decline across the board last year: Japan – 55 percent; US- 56 percent; UK -67 percent.

“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, and were the only formats to exhibit positive growth over 2008,” said GfK-ChartTrack business director, Dorian Bloch.

“Growth on these platforms did not manage to offset the steep decline in PS2 software units (-67%), which in real terms was close to a decline of 4 million units. Also, the incredible performance exhibited by Nintendo’s Wii in 2008 meant that Wii units fell back 10 percent, although remained the number one format in terms of units sold in 2009.

“Within the portable market, it is clear that this is the reason for the overall console software decline. Nintendo DS volume (and value) sales in 2008 reached a high point brought about by massive, record-breaking DS Lite sales – rolling on to 2009 saw much lower DS hardware sell-through and no new must-have DS titles at the top of the charts, apart from ‘Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box.’

“Sony’s PSP suffered a similar fate, with few must-have titles arriving in 2009, and a continued decline in PSP hardware sales, ever since the sweet spot achieved in 2006 with the original PSP.”

Over in the States, NPD’s Anita Frazier notes a trend starting to emerge from publishers, who are chatting about creating fewer titles each year in order to focus on quality – which harkens back to 2004.

“Looking at software sales performance, video game software unit sales declined seven percent for all of 2009. Still, while year-over-year comparisons show declines, the industry is still boasting significant volumes that were unseen before 2008,” said NPD’s Anita Frazier.

“With the huge investment needed to produce software for this generation’s consoles, many publishers talk about releasing fewer titles each year which will allow their teams to better focus on maximizing the success of each title. The theory is that this will produce more high quality games resulting in better sales.

“However, the year end data from 2009 shows us that the number of titles entering the market is still growing. 778 new titles were released in 2009, up from the 764 in 2008.

“So, while there has been no noticeable slow down in the number of titles launched each year, we do see some evidence of a converse relationship between the number of titles launched and the average unit sales of a title. When looking back at the past 7 years, we see that 2004 had the lowest number of titles launched, yet the highest average unit sales. On the other hand, 2009 had the most titles launched and average unit sales were lower than they’ve been since 2005.”

In the same report, it was noted that Modern Warfare 2 was top dog in 2009, with world sales reaching 11.86 million units.

Nintendo finished off the top-five with with four titles, which combined equal global sales of 26.22 million units.

Full thing through MCV.

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