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UK Game sales fell 18 percent over Christmas

UK Game sales fell 18 percent over Christmas

Sales of boxed games fell 18 percent over the Christmas period according to The GAME Group.

The GAME Group, which is the group behind the games specialist retailers GAME and GameStation in the UK, has revealed that boxed game sales fell 18 percent over the Christmas period compared to last year.

Total group sales were down 12.1 per cent and International sales declined 0.9 per cent for the same period, according to figures released to GI.biz.

"The negative trends in the PC and videogames market continued over the key Christmas selling period despite strong software releases and a sizeable installed base of hardware," said GAME Group Chairman Peter Lewis.

"This, combined with the strong comparative period and the impact of customers shopping later, resulted in like for like sales declines of 13.8 per cent for the Group over the last five weeks. Since Christmas, however, we have seen significant improvement as customers have responded well to our mint and preowned sales offers and the release of new software."

For the 49 weeks ending on January 9th the sales performance across the UK and Ireland were down by 15.1 percent.

GAME has been particularly proud of increased performance in pre-owned games, which effectively cut out the publishers, but Chairman Lewis points out that the year-on-year increases in the pre-owned markets have been offset by creating software bundles for new consoles.

The GAME Group is still doing pretty well overall though, with expected profits for the financial year ending January 31st to be at least £87 million GBP - though that is down from £126.2 million GBP last year.

The reasons for the dip in sales would seem fairly obvious, with Supermarkets taking an increased interest in using games as a loss-leader and the success of digital distribution being huge factors alongside the obvious issue of piracy.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

40 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
smc8788 12th January 2010, 13:16 Quote
So game sales fell for two of the most overpriced retail stores after a significant and continuing period of economic downturn? Revelatory.
shanky887614 12th January 2010, 13:18 Quote
well if you think about it the pc games they sell are not any good and how hard is it to pirate now adays you just type the name of the game in google then dowload hit enter and you have millions of links metiforically speaking of course
alpaca 12th January 2010, 13:19 Quote
aha, the steam masterplan is unfolding!
shanky887614 12th January 2010, 13:21 Quote
well there is another service which is similar to steam but seems a lot better it is by amd i can't remember the name but you dont need to log into there servers to play the games only download them and to play online
Jamie 12th January 2010, 13:29 Quote
They had it really good last christmas because every man and his dog were buying Wiis and DS lites and games to play on them.

Now that people realise the Wii is overpriced crap they've stopped buying games for them.
azrael- 12th January 2010, 13:33 Quote
I, too, blame Steam. The root of all evil. Cost me an arm and a leg over the holidays... :)
frontline 12th January 2010, 13:35 Quote
I haven't bought a boxed game for ages. In fact the only boxed games i bought in the last couple of years were ones that weren't due to appear on Steam around the same time as the boxed version was released. Now they are almost simultaneous releases, i just go for the digital download version.
smc8788 12th January 2010, 13:45 Quote
I doubt the 18% decline has anything to do with Steam. Most PC gamers were using Steam last year as well, and I don't know anyone who would buy someone a game as a Christmas present on Steam, rather than a physical copy. Besides, PC games only make up a tiny proportion of GAME's total retail sales (just look at how little floor space they dedicate to them).

The issue is that GAME are losing sales to supermarkets and Internet retailers who are able to sell them for a much lower price. Just look at Modern Warfare 2 - by far the biggest selling game of the year and supermarkets were selling it for half the price of GAME. People aren't stupid, they're fickle and are going to buy it from wherever they can get it the cheapest. The sooner GAME dies, the better.
Omnituens 12th January 2010, 14:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by smc8788
and I don't know anyone who would buy someone a game as a Christmas present on Steam
I did.
AshT 12th January 2010, 14:02 Quote
Down 18% compared to last year ... AND market cap down 6.37% today. Not good.

And even worse that they dare suggest to focus on their money grabbing second hand sales, publishers will not thank them for that. Expect a future of digital distribution to happen quicker than ever.
tripwired 12th January 2010, 14:06 Quote
I only ever buy my games from three places:

1) Steam
2) Play.com
3) Amazon

Anytime I've ever gone into GAME for a browse, everything I've been interested in purchasing has been more or less double the price I could get it for online. Bricks and mortar shops dedicated to games are likely to die out unless they diversify in a unique way.
JonDixon 12th January 2010, 14:09 Quote
Game and Gamestation are shockingly over-priced or should I say they only sell at RRP.

I find their second hand games not much value now either if its a latest release (only out 1 or 2 weeks) tend to find the second hand one being sold at £2 less than new. So second hand is £37 but you'll only get like £19 trade in.

Normally get releases via web from anywhere between 25-40% reduction on the RRP so why shop at Game in store?

Their internet pricing also tends to be the higher than anyone else too.

And as smc8788 pointed out Supermarkets sold the the 3 triple AAA xmas titles at huge discount.

FIFA 2010, Modern Warfare 2, Assassins Creed 2 and Uncharted 2

Both Modern Warfare 2 and Uncharted were sold at £26 cant remember FIFA price

I have lost count now of the number of times I have walked into Game seen their sticker price and then walked out. I am sometimes prepared to pay a couple of quid premium to pick up something there and then but when Im looking at £10+ difference. I'm suddently prepared to wait a few days for delivery and order online.
Elton 12th January 2010, 14:17 Quote
It's more of the expensive sticker price.

With that said, GTA IV can be had in stores for $19.99 whereas it's more expensive online.
MacWalka 12th January 2010, 14:17 Quote
GAME are ridiculously overpriced even compared to the likes of HMV.

I buy games from:

Play.com
HMV
Amazon
and now..
Steam

HMV sometimes have some great deals on. I got Street Fighter IV and Halo Wars for £20 each a week after they came out. GAME weren't even offering that for pre-owned games.

I used to like it when it was called Electronics Boutique as they used to have games tournaments every couple of weeks for different games: Gran Turismo, Tony Hawk, Pro Evo etc.
cjoyce1980 12th January 2010, 14:25 Quote
i'm pretty much the same, but a friend of mind put me onto shopto.net, just another option for you guys.

but places like game will die out of they dont offer something unique, and this is why some of the special editions of triple AAA titles that will be out this will only be available in retail stores, which is poo
Shadowed_fury 12th January 2010, 14:40 Quote
Supermarkets. Need I say more.
Cerberus90 12th January 2010, 14:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnituens
Quote:
Originally Posted by smc8788
and I don't know anyone who would buy someone a game as a Christmas present on Steam
I did.

Me too, I bought my friend the Half Life Generations Pack on Steam, for about £4 something IIRC.
AshT 12th January 2010, 14:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elton
It's more of the expensive sticker price.

With that said, GTA IV can be had in stores for $19.99 whereas it's more expensive online.

It was in the Steam holiday sale for $6 to $8. Depending on country location.
Unknownsock 12th January 2010, 14:59 Quote
Well my local game stopped selling PC games a while back then as it was also in Borders, its now gone.
Unknownsock 12th January 2010, 15:01 Quote
Another reason to hate them is that they've almost bought out all competition in the UK..Rarely find decent retail deals now..
DbD 12th January 2010, 15:30 Quote
Steam ftw, unless available significantly cheaper elsewhere I always use steam for new games. The steam sales also work with me - pick up an older game cheap on steam > buying it second hand off ebay.
FIBRE+ 12th January 2010, 16:16 Quote
Quote:
GAME has been particularly proud of increased performance in pre-owned games, which effectively cut out the publishers, but Chairman Lewis points out that the year-on-year increases in the pre-owned markets have been offset by creating software bundles for new consoles.
Does that not suggest the obvious to them, that their prices are too high for new games.

All the games I bought over christmass were from either Amazon or Steam, it was cheaper and I didn't have to put up with crowds of rabid christmass shopers.
MacWalka 12th January 2010, 16:35 Quote
There's actually a game swap shop in Falkirk near where I work. They have some great deals if you want to sell an old game or get a pre-owned one. They beat anything any other shop does. They gurantee that a like for like game will be cheaper to buy and will get you more money if you sell to them than GAME, HMV, GameStation or Blockbuster.

They don't sell ANY brand new games though, its only for buying pre-owned or selling your old games.
freedom810 12th January 2010, 17:42 Quote
GAME is messed up, me and my friend popped in to have a look today. Found a preowned game (gtaiv) for £19.99 and it was the same price brand new! I dared my mate to ask why and the guy walked away from him and mumbled 'its how the trade in prices are set..' who would be stupid enough to buy a preowned for the same as a new? :?
bobwya 12th January 2010, 17:52 Quote
The Steam Sale cleaned me out so I had no money to spend in Amazon.:D

What self-respecting PC gamer is going to go into Game anyway...
Jaguar_Infinity 12th January 2010, 18:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobwya
What self-respecting PC gamer is going to go into Game anyway...

one that wants a giggle? that's all i seem to end up doing when i go in there. Sometimes it's nice to have a look around and see if any titles catch your eye but I won't buy it instore.

I buy via Steam, amazon, play or zavvi - the price difference between these sites and game/gamestation is just too great to justify anything else imo. Even if you don't have amazon prime it's often cheaper to pay for the game with next day delivery and get a hard copy than it is to get it from game. Steam is even faster and you don't have to worry about loosing or damaging a disc.
Ficky Pucker 12th January 2010, 18:54 Quote
i bought 2 games from "game" in last 5 years, you can get a lot better prices buying online (play.com, shopto.net, amazon or steam)
eddtox 12th January 2010, 19:00 Quote
Glad to see that the decrease isn't blamed on piracy, at least. I like game but only for pre-owned stuff. I haven't played any game released in the last 2-3 years though, so meh.
Combatus 12th January 2010, 19:00 Quote
I bought loads of stuff on Steam over Christmas, mainly in their brilliant sales. GAME might be suffering but I reckon Steam raked in a nice little bundle of cash since it started its sales before Christmas
MonkeyTurnip 12th January 2010, 19:23 Quote
how many Game shops are there in your town? in Southampton there is 4, all with in 5 mins walk of each other. getting rid of 2 of these will massivly save overheads. this is ontop of 1 gamestation 1 bigish cex, toy r us etc

plus as said their prices are well to high,
puck 12th January 2010, 21:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by smc8788
I doubt the 18% decline has anything to do with Steam. Most PC gamers were using Steam last year as well, and I don't know anyone who would buy someone a game as a Christmas present on Steam, rather than a physical copy. Besides, PC games only make up a tiny proportion of GAME's total retail sales (just look at how little floor space they dedicate to them).

The issue is that GAME are losing sales to supermarkets and Internet retailers who are able to sell them for a much lower price. Just look at Modern Warfare 2 - by far the biggest selling game of the year and supermarkets were selling it for half the price of GAME. People aren't stupid, they're fickle and are going to buy it from wherever they can get it the cheapest. The sooner GAME dies, the better.

The supermarkets were selling MW2 at a loss, at around £6 per SKU if you believe reports. How do you compete with that? If yet another retailer goes do you really think the supermarkets will continue to offer throat cutting prices on prime titles? When you have ALL the market you can charge what you want!
teamtd11 12th January 2010, 21:18 Quote
i spent all my money on games off steam over Christmas, even gifting to 4 other friends too. digital is the future, just wish our isp's would see that!
D-Cyph3r 12th January 2010, 21:43 Quote
GAME are god damn awful nowadays anyways. Rude, unhelpful, patronising staff, barely any (or none at all) PC games and prices are significantly higher than the supermarkets and etailers.

My 2 local GAME stores are practically dominated by 360 and DS sections, with 1 having the tiny piece of shelf space that used to hold PC games now taken up by CD's. With digital distribution taking off more and supermarkets destroying them in the pricing department I honestly cant see GAME being around to see 2020...
puck 12th January 2010, 22:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknownsock
Another reason to hate them is that they've almost bought out all competition in the UK..Rarely find decent retail deals now..

Who would that be then? I wouldn't call Gamestation ALL the competition.
whisperwolf 12th January 2010, 22:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by puck
Who would that be then? I wouldn't call Gamestation ALL the competition.

No but the complaint that supermarket prices are killing GAME is amusing considering its was GAME's prices that drove a lot of independent stores out of business.

The trouble with the supermarkets is that they mostly only stock the top 10. I like to browse the older games, I mostly reside 6 months to a year behind the new release curve so that the price drops considerably. Unfortunately where GAME and Gamestation used to do a variety of games, the stores near me now mostly do the top 20, and the rest is preowned. I can buy them online at that time for less than their preowned prices.

And what's GAME's solution to this problem, lets sell the top 10 cd's at RRP. their must be a market now that Woolworths and Zavvi have closed. hmmm i wonder which places are selling the top 10 cheaply too,
puck 12th January 2010, 23:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by whisperwolf
No but the complaint that supermarket prices are killing GAME is amusing considering its was GAME's prices that drove a lot of independent stores out of business.

The trouble with the supermarkets is that they mostly only stock the top 10. I like to browse the older games, I mostly reside 6 months to a year behind the new release curve so that the price drops considerably. Unfortunately where GAME and Gamestation used to do a variety of games, the stores near me now mostly do the top 20, and the rest is preowned. I can buy them online at that time for less than their preowned prices.

And what's GAME's solution to this problem, lets sell the top 10 cd's at RRP. their must be a market now that Woolworths and Zavvi have closed. hmmm i wonder which places are selling the top 10 cheaply too,

I don't remember a HUGE price war in the days gone by, or GAME/EB/Gamestation selling at a loss. Perhaps ones memory dulls with age?

I do remember plenty of indie game shops in the larger towns around me for a long time after EB/Game/Gamestation started trading. Not so much now the supermarkets have moved in on the specialists. I can't think of any left near me, that goes for news agents/iron mongers/green grocers/bakers/office licenses/petrol stations too. See a pattern here folks?

The debate about digital downloads is an interesting one. Sure, I haven't bought a PC from a bricks and mortar retailer for ages now but the console debate is a different one. My PS3 and XBOX360 do not have terabytes of disk space so it would be impractical to download everything, nor would I want to buy everything from one online retailer dictated to me by Microsoft or Sony.

I would naturally as a consumer demand a choice but does selling at a loss on release day actually leave me with one?
smc8788 12th January 2010, 23:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by puck
The supermarkets were selling MW2 at a loss, at around £6 per SKU if you believe reports. How do you compete with that? If yet another retailer goes do you really think the supermarkets will continue to offer throat cutting prices on prime titles? When you have ALL the market you can charge what you want!

I know they sell them at a loss, but GAME were still more expensive than all other retailers. It wouldn't make any difference if GAME were to disappear completely because they're not competitive on prices - other retailers can't charge above the MSRP for them, which is all GAME do anyway.
puck 13th January 2010, 00:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by smc8788
I know they sell them at a loss, but GAME were still more expensive than all other retailers. It wouldn't make any difference if GAME were to disappear completely because they're not competitive on prices - other retailers can't charge above the MSRP for them, which is all GAME do anyway.

Hmmm. Not sure they do? The RRP on MW2 PS3 is £54.99 not £44.99.

GAME.co.uk - £44.99 - http://www.game.co.uk/Games/PlayStation-3/Call-of-Duty-Modern-Warfare-2-/~r339835/

HMV.com - £44.99 - http://hmv.com/hmvweb/displayProductDetails.do?ctx=280;0;-1;-1;-1&sku=915443

Both high street retailers.

PLAY.com - £44.99 - http://www.play.com/Games/PlayStation3/4-/8771812/Call-Of-Duty-Modern-Warfare-2/Product.html

AMAZON.co.uk - £39.88 - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Call-Duty-Modern-Warfare-PS3/dp/B0021AETOK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=videogames&qid=1263336822&sr=1-2

Both online retailers.

The differnence is not so wide now is it? So amazon are a whole £5 cheeper, not suprising with their buying power.

People loosing their jobs will always make a difference, just look around you next time you step outside the door.
Tangster 13th January 2010, 21:38 Quote
Meh, I'm happy, I got Star Wars:Knights of the Old Republic(which has become difficult to get a box copy of now), World In Conflict and Mirror's Edge for £10 last november.
Lukna 13th January 2010, 21:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerberus90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnituens
Quote:
Originally Posted by smc8788
and I don't know anyone who would buy someone a game as a Christmas present on Steam
I did.

Me too, I bought my friend the Half Life Generations Pack on Steam, for about £4 something IIRC.

Same here.Got Dragon Age:origins from my brother.Just a shame the next day it was a part of the deal for £22.49. :)
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