The NPD Group Australia has released a report on 2012 retail sales showing a contraction in overall sales, but industry figures believe spend may have been diverted to non-traditional channels.
According to the NPD Group, Australian retail recorded sales of $1.161 billion over the course of 2012, which is a 23% year-on-year decrease. This figure includes console hardware, games software and gaming peripherals.
In a statement, the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association pointed out that the report fails to account for non-traditional sales streams - online retail, downloadable content, online games subscriptions, in-game micro-transactions and mobile games.
“As Australians consume video games across a broader range of mediums, it’s becoming harder to get a true indication of the value of the industry via a single source," iGEA CEO Ron Curry said.
"While there is a decline in traditional sales, the gaming industry as a whole remains buoyant as people shift towards a ‘hybrid’ model in their consumption of interactive entertainment.”
Analyst firm Telsyte agreed, estimating Australians will spend more than $730 million on digital games subscriptions, virtual goods and mobile games in 2013. That's a year-on-year increase of 18% on the firm's estimation of 2012's $620 million.
Curry also dobbed in the fading console cycle for a decline in physical sales, particularly as overall hardware units declined by 26.9% year-on-year. HD consoles as a category fell just 10.6%, though.
Although the NPD Group's figures have not been released in full to the public, the iGEA provided some highlights, noting that end-of-year sales trended towards annualised franchises. The ten best-selling games of December 2012 accounted for 46% of all sales during the month, a 12% increase from 2011.
While overall software was down, PC software sales alone were up 3.4%, which the iGEA credited to Diablo 3 and Guild Wars 2. Peripherals was the only category to show increase in both units and value this year. A 20% unit sales growth spike was credited to Skylanders Giants.