Australian gaming rises in 2006

Oz game sales top A$925 million ($727.8 million) last year; hardware sales rise 18 percent, software numbers slightly down.

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The introduction of two new consoles helped spur the Australian games industry to new highs in 2006, with overall sales clocking in at A$925 million ($727.8 million) for the year.

Figures released today by the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) and compiled by industry trackers GFK Australia show that 2006 game sales down under rose by 7 percent from 2005. Most of the growth can be attributed to hardware, which grew by 18 percent in 2006 to account for A$329 million in sales. Two next-generation consoles--the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii--debuted in Australia last year.

Game software accounted for A$596 million worth of sales last year, a marginal rise of only 1 percent from 2005 figures. Christmas was the busiest time of year once again, with 23 percent of all games sold (A$211 million) in December 2006. While the value was slightly up, the overall number of games sold experienced a dip--12.5 million games were sold in Australia in 2006 compared to 12.6 million in 2005.

Hardware sales figures for the last quarter of 2006 show that while Sony's PlayStation 2 still dominates the home console sector, the Nintendo DS is the undisputed leader when all game hardware is taken into account. Nintendo sold 151,922 DS units between October and December 2006, compared to 122,639 PS2s. The PSP sold 55,850 units in the same period.

The two next-generation consoles released in Australia also had strong final quarter sales. The Nintendo Wii sold 51,744 units--an impressive number considering the console only made its Aussie debut on December 7, 2006. The Xbox 360 sold 45,036 units in the last three months of 2006. While GfK Australia did not disclose full-year hardware sales figures, Microsoft stated in October that more than 100,000 360s had been sold in Australia since its March 2006 launch.

In a statement, IEAA CEO Chris Hanlon forecasted that the Australian games industry would continue its strong growth in 2007. "2007 will be a considerable year for hardware sales and the Australian interactive games industry will comfortably exceed the A$1 billion mark," Hanlon said.

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