Australian retail games industry slips 23 percent in 2012

New NPD figures reveal that the local games industry recorded sales of A$1.161 billion in 2012, a year-on-year decline of 23 percent. Sony claims PS3 was the highest-selling console during the period.

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Industry organisation the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) today announced that Australian game sales achieved A$1.161 billion during 2012. The number represents a 23 percent decline on the previous year, according to market research company NPD Group Australia.

The number is based on console hardware, game software, and game accessories sales made through Australian retailers. It does not include mobile or digital sales (Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Steam, Origin), mobile in-app micro transactions, game subscriptions, or purchases made through online retailers. In 2012, the industry suffered a 12.8 percent slide on the year prior, down to A$1.5 billion from A$1.7 billion in 2010.

iGEA CEO Ron Curry commented that while the figure paints a picture that the industry is slowing, the methods of consumer purchase and consumption habits of game content by players is changing, and is not representative of the industry’s broader health.

“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,” said Curry. “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.”

Curry also attributes declines at retail to the current console generation--the longest in history.

“Apart from the increasing move towards digital content, the figures released by NPD show a drop in physical sales due in part to the ageing gaming consoles, a trend we saw back in 2005 at the end of the last console cycle.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by analysts at technology firm Telsyte, who are forecasting 18 percent year-on-year growth for digital games, subscriptions, and virtual goods to A$730 million in 2013, up from A$620 million in 2012.

“The growth in digital gaming is driven by mobile app gaming on smartphones and tablets, which is offsetting the decline in physical purchases and even pushing the overall games market into growth,” said Sam Yip, senior research manager for Telsyte, in a statement.

Financial services company PricewaterhouseCoopers confirmed that it anticipates similar positive trends. Its four-year Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook 2012-2016 report predicts growth of the Australian interactive entertainment industry by 7.4 percent over the next four years. The company pegs it as the largest consumer spend area in the country, surpassing music, film, and pay television, and beaten only by online commerce.

Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCEA) has used the release of the industry numbers to assert its claim as the highest-selling game device for the 2012 period. According to SCEA, the PlayStation 3 achieved a 27 percent share of total hardware sales, and held the number one spot for software in the region, with its 28.9 percent share.

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