Nintendo leads UK gaming growth

Thirty percent fewer PC games sold at retail in 2008 than 2007, but massive console growth offsets setback.

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Despite the bleak outlook for some in the games industry, UK retail-trade body the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) has announced record sales of 485.8 million games, DVDs, and music combined for 2008, representing an overall unit growth of 4 percent year-on-year.

Spearheading this growth has been video games, which saw sales shoot up 17 percent to 82.8 million units, despite PC game sales dropping from 12.2 million to 8.5 million units. This growth was "led by the huge success of Nintendo's Wii platform," according to the ERA, though Microsoft and Sony have also reported excellent trading, with the Xbox 360's sales recently doubling in Europe, and the PS3 seeing a 40 percent increase during 2008.

Despite excellent growth across consoles, the PC market's 31 percent decline paints a worrisome picture for the platform heading into 2009. It should be noted that these figures encompass only physical copies of games as they are sold, and do not include sales through download services such as Steam or sales direct from publishers.

The wider retail picture was also rosier than some had feared. In addition to record games sales, there was growth in both music and video, with Blu-ray sales recording a 358 percent increase, to 3.7 million units, compared to DVD sales, which rose by 1.9 percent to 253 million. Music growth was led by the single, which was up 33 percent from last year to 115.1 million units, mostly from digital downloads that accounted for 95.8 percent of single sales. Album sales also reported unexpected growth in the final months of the year, again thanks to the boost from increased uptake of online services.

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