Demand for consoles, add-ons skyrockets as PC games plunge
UK Gamers shifting to dedicated devices?
Videogame sales in the UK will eclipse the combined value of music and video purchases in the UK this year for the first time ever, despite plummeting demand for PC titles.
Verdict Research said that, by the end of 2008, UK gamers will have splashed out a credit crunch-defying £4.6bn ($7.2bn/€5.7bn) on gaming kit, including consoles, accessories and games. Sales will be up 42 per cent on the total spent in 2007, Verdict said.
But sales of music and video in the UK will still be strong, Verdict predicted, with an end-of-year forecast of £4.4bn ($7bn/€5.4bn).
According to fellow market watcher Chart Track, console game sales alone were worth £1.7bn ($2.7bn/€2.1bn) last year in the UK. Music sales were worth £1.4bn ($2.2bn/€1.7bn) and video sales £2.2bn ($3.5bn/€2.7bn).
However, Dorian Bloch, director of UK sales at Chart Track, told Register Hardware today that Verdict's prediction is too high. "Sales of over £4bn is likely," he forecast, "but I don't think the figure will rise above £4.6bn."
He noted that although the gaming industry expects Q4 sales in the UK to be the "best ever", sales of PC games have dropped dramatically.
Chart Track's figures show that, between 1998 and 2004, PC game sales averaged £200m ($320m/€247m) in the UK. But he said last year they were roughly £150m, and that this year's figures will be "way down" on the 2007 total.
If its not dead, its certainly looking a funny colour...
I agree with almost all everyone's comments as to why PC game sales are in decline, especially those that highlight the ease with which you can play games on consoles without having to check specifications, bug check, download patches and jump through various DRM hoops. I admit that whilst I still buy PC games, I now tend to buy more games for my XBox 360, which is simply easier to use for a quick gaming fix. I also agree with the points about having to constantly drop hundreds of pounds on new PC kit to even be able to run a title, let alone play it with half decent graphics without the risk of the game turning into an interactive slideshow. I just can't afford to keep buying new processors, graphics cards, PSUs, memory, operating systems and hard drives every few months!
However, I don't think anyone has mentioned the important fact that games shops are perpetually reducing the size of their PC games sections, sometimes to the degree that they are smaller than the 'miscellaneous items of game-related tat' sections, (Mario plush toys, and so on). They're also almost always stuck out of the way in some rarely visited area of the store or conversely, in the most awkward place imaginable.
Gamestation seem to be particularly prone to doing this - my local store appears to be selling off most of their pre-owned PC games for a pittance, and have placed the pre-owned section directly in front of the staff door to the stockroom. Similarly, the brand new PC games are placed on a very small number of shelves directly in the way of where people queue for the till. If you want to browse either section, you're either continually being 'excuse me'd' out of the way by staff carrying armfuls of console goodies to and fro, or bored punters waiting to pay for stuff.
And then theres the criminal lack of variety in stocked titles - I know for a fact that there are more games out there than are displayed in stores. Now that Gamestation is part of the same chain as GAME, their stocked PC titles are pretty lacklustre and usually identical, an example of this being the fact that as my wife has a liking for LEGO games, I was looking to try and find LEGO Batman shortly after its release - this proved more difficult to find than a piece of hay in a large stack of needles. In the end, I ordered it from an online retailer.
Stores like as HMV and Zavvi are even worse than the supposed specialist game stores. Even my local CEX (traded games only) have shifted their PC games from right next to the area where people queue for the tills to a dank area right at the back of the store, (see what I mean about the PC game placement trend?). Even supermarkets have stopped stocking PC games entirely, or if they have some, they tend to be the top 5 or 10 games, which invariably means half of their stock are bloody Sims expansions that no-one actually wants.
So although I've been a staunch supporter of PC gaming in the past, and have often posted rambling diatribes against lazy console ports, I think I'm on the verge of giving up on the PC as major gaming platform.
It just seems to be getting progressively easier and cheaper to get a console and an armful of good games instead, set myself up on my settee and crack on with the serious business of having fun...
Plus, PC Zone magazine seems to be turning into a tri-monthly games leaflet, with people pulled off the street with a shepherd's crook every other month to take a turn as a reviewer/freelance journalist/magazine editor before they leave the sinking ship. But thats another gripe I have...
RE: Unfair comparison?
I agree with you, to a point, but do you buy a new hi-fi every time that "must have" album comes out that hasn't been released for your current CD player? Oh ... wait a minute ... it doesn't quite work like that for music. ;)
As long as
I can plug a keyboard and mouse into the console, I'll have one. Then there would never be any reason to use Windows.
Its all gone down hill
I own a imac and a normal pc with xp and laptop with vista on it. and my oqo is to slow to play much and my Ipod touch 2nd gen is not going to win any speed racers too..
I used to build my own PC's but as I could never afford top of the line video cards etc. I was always stuck playing games that look crap or about 3-4 years old.
With a console I know that I can play the lastest games @ hd res and I my system is no better than the people that have shed loads of cash to play with. the type that could have the top of the range pc etc. but stick with consoles.
I only have a core duo imac @ 1.83ghz with its radeon x1600 video system so its hopeless for playing games. And my pc is worse but thats cause it has only low profile slots
I do still buy the odd pc game but only the old ones for around £10-£15 as i would rather spend more cash on the xbox 360 so i know my system will be able to play it.
and what consoles do i own. well the last one i got was a 1st gen playstation. I have 1 playstation 2 psone's 3 gamecubes and 1 xbox and 1 xbox 360.
I only play on the 360 as there are some good old games on the others for my two young boys..
its a shame the PC costs so much to be able to play decent games as I do miss taking them apart etc..
Sign of the times
It's a sad conclusion, but not a surprising one. I think most people have added pieces to the puzzle, but in the end, it's all of the above.
Graphics - Used to be a big draw - why watch a PS2 on low res TV, when you could see it beautiful crisp SVGA? Nowadays, it's all plug and play HD TVs - no worrying about tweaking drivers and video settings to get the frame rate up.
Reliability - No compatibility issues, just drop it in and away you go. No need to worry too much about whether you've got up to date drivers, Direct X/OpenGl whatever version. Oh, and no need for Vista's bloat under the hood.
Price - £160 for an xbox360 with a hard disk and wireless controller, versus thick end of a grand for a gaming PC which will run any game without having to tweak everything. Yes the games cost more, but when the device costs half dozen times more to get the same convenience, I'll swallow the tenner difference.
Variety - Used to be so much variety in PC games, as opposed to consoles (platform games or racing). Nowadays, the variety has improved on consoles, but declined on PCs. Tends to be poor rehashes of console games, with a small smattering of cheap rubbish. There are odd exceptions, and lets face it, an FPS or a strategy game needs a keyboard and mouse. Put them on an XBOX and I'd be as happy as a pig in sh*t.
Bring back the good old days of loads of different flight sims, space sims, strategy games, FPS games with brains (or not, as in Serious Sam), proper adventure games....