It will probably come as no surprise to know that Nintendo is currently leading the charge for gaming in the UK. Wii Fit, Nintendo's family-orientated fitness programme, was at the top spot in the UK charts for seven consecutive weeks. Its worldwide sales numbers are staggering, with 18.2 million Wii Fits having been sold worldwide, alongside 18.4 million Wii Plays and 15.4 million Mario Karts.
Today, the UK games publishers' trade body (ELSPA), has released software sales figures for the first half of 2009. Both the individual platform charts and all format charts (combined sales from each platform the game is released on) confirm Nintendo's gaming dominance. Wii Fit, Wii Play, and Mario Kart Wii had combined sales of 1.65 million units for the period, making up the top three in the individual chart, while Wii Fit held the top spot in the all format battle. Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training also hit lifetime sales figures of over 3 million units, making it the most popular game in the UK.
Michael Rawlinson, ELSPA's directory general, believes the figures represent a clear transition of gaming into the mainstream saying: "The demographic has changed, so it's time we did away with the misperception that video games are merely the preserve of teenage boys shooting zombies. Innovation in the industry means the social and educational benefits of gaming are now enjoyed by players of both sexes and of all ages."
The success of casual games has long been predicted to eat into the development time intended for the traditional hardcore gaming audience. At the 2008 GDC, PlayFirst CEO John Welch commented that the "The Promise of Casual Games" would soon make them more popular than hardcore titles. Another report by Forbes last year suggested that Europe in particular prefers casual gaming to bloody first-person shooters.
Forbes cited the sales figures for Halo 3, which had sold 900,000 in the UK, but over 4.8 million in the US. Conversely, casual titles, such as Brain Training had sold 2.8 million units, and FIFA 2008 sold 2.3 million copies. Cevat Yerli, CEO of Crytek and makers of the hit FPS Crysis, also commented on gaming in Europe suggesting that Europeans believe shooters to be "evil."
This year's E3 also saw each major console maker unveil a new motion controller, aimed squarely at the burgeoning casual gamer market. Microsoft unveiled "Project Natal" a full-body tracking device, Sony unveiled a Wii-Remote like peripheral for the PlayStation 3, while Nintendo expanded upon its current tech with Wii MotionPlus.
However, it's not all bad news for those uninspired by Italian plumbers and yoga stretches--hardcore games are still selling. Sony's critically acclaimed FPS Killzone 2 on PS3 managed to nab the number five spot, with Resident Evil 5 on the Xbox 360 taking number six, and Call of Duty: World At War on the Xbox 360 grabbing the number nine spot in the individual format charts.
Things look even rosier for the hardcore in the all format charts with Call of Duty: World At War managing to take number three, Resident Evil 5 taking four, and Street Fighter IV taking number nine.
Check out the full list below.
Games Top Ten for Individual Formats – First Half 2009
1 Wii Fit (Wii)
2 Wii Play (Wii)
3 Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
4 Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS)
5 Killzone 2 (PS3)
6 Resident Evil 5 (XB360)
7 Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training (DS)
8 The Sims 3 (PC)
9 Call of Duty: World At War (XB360)
10 Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (Wii)
Games Top Ten for ALL Formats - First Half 2009
1 Wii Fit (Wii)
2 FIFA 09 (XB360/PS3/PSP/WII/PS2/DS/PC)
3 Call of Duty: World at War (XB360/PS3/WII/PS2/PC/DS)
4 Resident Evil 5 (XB360/PS3)
5 Wii Play (Wii)
6 Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
7 Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS)
8 Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (Wii/DS)
9 Street Fighter IV (PS3/XB360)
10 Guitar Hero: World Tour (WII/XB360/PS3/PS2)