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UK suffers videogame 2009 sales blow

PS2 popularity slumps

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The games industry is often perceived as going from strength to strength, with titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 claiming record sales figures. But 2009 actually saw UK sales plunge, market watchers said today.

Over-the-counter unit sales of console games were down six per cent compared to 2008's figure. Sales of games for handheld devices dropped a whopping 25 per cent, according to GfK Chart-Track.

Similar dips were recorded in the US, with console and handheld videogame sales dropping by seven and eight per cent, respectively, between 2008 and 2009.

Dorian Bloch, Business Group Director at GfK Chart Track, told Register Hardware that the decline – both in the UK and US – was partly due to last year’s 62 per cent drop in PlayStation 2 game sales.

“The PS2 has been a major sales driver for a long-time,” he said. “But people have moved on, and we're seeing the impact of that now."

The PS2 was launched in the UK in November 2000. It's amazing that a nine-year-old console should hold the fortunes of an industry in its hands, but that's what 2009's figures show.

Total software sales for current consoles during 2009 haven’t been disclosed – GfK reserves that information for paying customers — but Bloch said software sales for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were up last year, while Wii game sales were down about ten per cent on 2008.

Console sales dipped by 24 per cent between 2008 and 2009.

“It’s quite possible that the push to get consoles online for movies and TV, for example, affected software sales in 2009,” Bloch added.

What of the months ahead? GfK said it’s too early to tell if 2009 was just a blip.

The firm is confident that the upcoming release of “triple A” titles such as Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and motion-sensing console peripherals, including Microsoft's 'Project Natal', will help strengthen 2010’s videogame sales figures. ®

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