Aussie retail games industry slips 12.8 percent in 2011

New NPD figures reveal that the Australian games industry recorded sales of A$1.5 billion in 2011, a year-on-year drop of 12.8 percent.

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The Australian video game industry dropped 12.8 percent in revenue in the past year, recording A$1.5 billion in traditional retail game sales in 2011, compared to A$1.7 billion in 2010.

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) released the latest data from independent market research group NPD Group Australia today, revealing all revenue generated from console hardware, games software, and gaming peripherals sold through retail in the last year. However, the NPD data excludes sales from online retail, downloadable content, online games subscriptions, in-game microtransactions, and mobile games.

According to iGEA CEO Ron Curry, the growth of the digital sector will impact heavily on the local video-game industry in the future.

"As Australians continue to access video games through a host of different channels, it's becoming more challenging to aggregate sales data through a single source," Curry said. "Whilst the NPD data has revealed a dip in 'traditional retail' sales--which, according to our latest Digital Australia report, still represents the lion's share of the games industry--other research has pointed to the growth in digital downloads, multiplayer online games, in-game purchases, and online subscriptions."

According to the iGEA, and citing technology firm Telsyte, estimates reveal that in 2012, Australians will spend over A$450 million in online gaming subscriptions and in-game purchases, accounting for around 20 percent of overall digital goods and the online subscriptions market.

Last year, a PricewaterhouseCoopers report forecasted that the local games industry will grow at 9.5 percent per year, reaching a revenue of A$2.5 billion by 2015 in both traditional and digital sales.

"Overall, we're seeing a lot of evidence point towards a continuing healthy interactive games industry," Curry said.

According to Anthony Reed, CEO of the Games Development Association of Australia (GDAA), the success of local games developers has been a driving force behind the local games market.

"In 2011, Australian-made games featured highly across multiple digital platforms," Reed said. "For example, Brisbane's Halfbrick Studios recorded over 120 million downloads of Fruit Ninja, and 11 million for the recently released Jetpack Joyride. Melbourne-based IronMonkey Studios won Apple's coveted Game of the Year award with Dead Space."

The NPD data also revealed that the top 20 software sales in 2011 featured shooters, RPGs, rhythm games, and sports games, with the two most popular genres of games sold being shooters and action games (both at 19 percent). The data also showed that 54 percent of games sold in 2011 in Australia were rated either G or PG.

In comparison to the previous year-on-year period, the Australian games industry registered a 16 percent decline in sales from 2009 to 2010.

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