Worryingly, the PlayStation 4 was the only home console to see sales of physical software in the UK increase year-over-year in 2016. The Nintendo 3DS also built upon its previous year's tally, but every other platform shrunk. That's resulted in a 13.4 per cent decline in game sales compared to 2015 in Britain, with the sector already on a downward trend as it is.
While it's worth remembering that this data doesn't take into account digital sales, it's still a frightening statistic, with the volume of physical software shifted less than a third of what was racked up in 2008. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was the bestselling game of the year, but it sold 31.5 per cent less than Black Ops III managed during the same period in 2016.
In fact, all of the major publishers struggled – despite heavy discounting. Bethesda's Dishonored 2, for example, couldn't come close to matching the success of Fallout 4, while Square Enix's Final Fantasy XV somehow failed to outsell Just Cause 3. Meanwhile, Ubisoft's duo of Watch Dogs 2 and Steep struggled to match the numbers of Assassin's Creed Syndicate and Rainbow Six: Siege.
It's all a bit scary, and when you factor in the plummeting sales of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it's clear that it's not been a particularly good year commercially for the games industry – unless significant digital sales are making up the deficit. Either way, it'll be interesting to see whether the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Scorpio, and Sony's recently released hardware can turn the tides in 2017.
I'm not surprised by this trend. The teenagers I know that used to ask for AAA games for Xmas now ask for Steam and Riot point.
Not a complete surprise with Wii U dead in the water and last gen finished but still slightly concerning. I don't think it's helped by retailers adopting American holiday sales as that initial buzz is dampened when you know these games will likely be much cheaper in just a couple of weeks time and before Christmas. Also you have so many just playing the likes of GTA online, Fifa, Destiny and presumably Overwatch on a near daily basis and when it comes to the former, many seem happy swapping real money for pretend money as opposed to buying new games.
Actually if you look at the UK sales chart there is a lack of imagination in what many gamers seem to be buying with Final Fantasy XV's relative sales a prime example, this is my one and only bout of gaming snobbery but Just Cause 3 selling more?
"it's not been a particularly good year commercially for the games industry"
That should probably read:
"it's not been a particularly good year commercially for the console games industry"
Mobile seems to be doing well/eating into console game sales as predicted by many analysts.
Sony and Microsoft have created this problem for themselves. Allowing physical games to be bought then resold many times means means the revenue ends as soon as the game is sold. PC games moved away from this model years ago. Yes you can still buy physical games but once the code is used thats it. You also have a great digital store with fast downloads. Next generation they really need to look at this issue.
It could be a worrying trend if you look at it that way but it could be more an indication of the standard of releases this year. CoD:IW had a lot of negativity from its announcement in May and it was difficult to see that selling as well as BO3. Subsequent trailers etc did help turn it around a bit but still it was unlikely to be as popular - especially as IW's last game was Ghosts which for many was not the best.
Dishonoured 2 is hardly as big a franchise as Fallout and was nowhere near as anticipated either by the gaming public. Watchdogs 2, another of this years 'big' releases was hardly wanted after the original left a bit of a bad taste. Steep too was not exactly well received and being 'new', didn't have the pulling power of an established franchise like Assassins Creed. Final Fantasy has a cult following and not necessarily going to break into the mainstream in the west.
Uncharted 4 though sold very well (I believe) and sold better than its predecessors on its opening week. I bet Doom sold well too although I do expect that was more of a slow burner after the MP Beta wasn't that great.
Its telling that apart from a few games, most of this years 'big' releases wouldn't make it into the Top 10 games of this generation.
For me, this year has been more about hardware - 4k HDR TV, XB1s and PS4 Pro. You could also add PSVR into that although not something I bought. VR games haven't exactly set the gaming world alight either - not saying they don't add a new dimension (pun intended) but as 'games' they aren't exactly must haves - yet.
In previous years, its been a case of having to decide which games I can afford to buy out of the many big titles releasing but this year, I have felt that I can pick up the few I wanted and save money towards hardware and not feel like I am missing out on a 'great' game.
Even without knowing exactly what games will be releasing this year, I can see it being quite expensive. We have Horizon:ZD (my most anticipated), ME:Andromeda, RE7, Halo Wars 2, For Honour, Ghost Recon Wildlands, Sniper Elite 4, Yooka-Laylee etc as well as number of Japanese games like Nioh, Nier, Persona 5, Gravity Rush 5 that seem popular with the PS fans - all in the first 3-4 months. No doubt we will see a lot of big games releasing in the last quarter - Destiny 2?, Call of Duty, Fifa, PES, SW:BF2, RDR2?, a new AC game? etc as well as other platform exclusives like Crackdown 3, Forza 7, Scalebound, Sea of Thieves etc and of course Project Scorpio and Nintendo Switch due out.
2016 may well be remembered more for the hardware - the birth of VR and 4k HDR gaming than the game releases but 2017 is looking quite busy.
Maybe you should review the situation in a year and see if it is a downward trend...
Lol... MS tried, see how that worked out for them.
Sony and Microsoft should have both agreed to do it. Games companies miss out on millions of revenue because of the 2nd hand market.
@dryrain they could try having digital downloads at a comparible price to steam for a start. 49.99 for nearly every new release is scandalous when you can buy the same title for atleast £10 cheaper physical copy online.
As an example I managed to get ffxv on simply games for £32 pre ordered delivered 3 days before release. On PS store? 49.99 thats horrific and that's a fairly regular occurrence with brand new titles.
If they go digital only at the current prices they charge then I'll buy less games than I do now.
That's all before the added value for some of trading in, which I don't do tbf.
@solocapers you are right pricing does need to be looked at they should be competitive with physical copies of the games.
Not really suprising the numbers are going down considered most of those are either sequels or next entry in a franchise..people know what to expect from some developers so they eventually decide it's not worth buying games from specific series, e.g. I've stopped buying cod games quite a long time ago.. The more new IPs there will be, or better sequels announced, the better the sales, and of course, lots of people buy digitally now.
I myself have cut down on buying games on release. Too many games failed to live up to expectations and simply a waste of time and money. I tend to play long lasting games now like Skyrim to keep me happy and save my money. There is a lot of good games out this year which I will keep a close eye on. The Nier sequel looked very promising but after playing the demo I will be giving that game a miss. The game industry has gone sour in my book.
@dryrain yes but compare PSN to Steam..... PSN £40 a year, Steam FREE a year, PSN store "sales" £49.99 now £39.99, Steam "sales" was £39.99 now £15. Sony (can't talk for Microsoft as I'm a Sony player) are killing themseves by making the digital games £49.99, when we can go out and buy the disk for £30/35 and then RESELL on later to bring your next game price less, if Sony started making games have codes they wouldn't drop prices from the £49.99 range but more gamers wouldn't buy, if Sony did that I could see gamers move over to PC gaming which would slowly kill off console gamers, even the monthly PSN games aren't free as soon as your PSN plus runs out BOOM no more playing all your monthly games.
having 2 kids & enough clutter in house plus ease I prefer digital. Seeing as don't have time just play multiplayer games I can wait till something is on sale. If I do want physical copy I usually go online. But if you look at the total stupidity of the releases end of last year all bunched together & all had to drop price about a week after release.
@Midzark PSN costs nothing per year. Its a platform like any other. To play a certain type of online title on the PSN costs money, sure, but not only is this not required for a large number of online titles (and all offline titles) it also comes with the benefit of "free" (paid) games monthly, which Steam does not. All this to say that saying "PSN costs, Steam doesn't" is a dramatic oversimplification that loses all relevance.
I think sale are dropping because developers are flooding the market. I have a massive backlog of games just from the last few months. Each new game that comes out is less likely to be bought simply because I have so many games that I havent finished yet. Give us some breathing room, give me time to finish a few games before you release the next batch of greatness.
@Midzark Price though is dictated by the publishers though, not Sony and they have to avoid undercutting retailers.
Any shred of respect I had for Microsoft went out of the window when they tried to block used games. Many (myself included) rely on the used game market to keep playing. If that went away it would hand too much power to the publishers who let's face it, if you gave them an inch then they will take a mile (see every full priced game with microtransactions). The biggest problem with publishers is that (to quote Jim Sterling) want "all of the money, not some of it" if these companies are worried about losses then maybe they should stop with this graphical arms race to the ceiling and obsession with everything been an open world.
This was the point Colin Moriarty brought up where he challenged anyone to name a game this generation that couldn't be done in the last one.
@thedevilsjester It's worth pointing out too that Steam haven't helped the oversaturation of the market either when 40% of their entire library were games released last year, it's getting too much at that point.
In 2008 the wii, ps3, and xbox 360 all in good health compared to now, where's only the ps4 that's sold well.
@dryrain If sony and microsoft only sold digital games, rather than increasing, it only decrease the games sales since not many people are going to take a risk buying a $60 game and not having the right to sold them 2nd hand if they dont like it.
Look at steam, grand theft auto 5 only sold 5 million in a 2 year time compared to console 11 million on 1 day. Steam is not a friendly place for AAA games.
@adf86 One of the reason I like console is I can sold the game if I don't like it/don't want to replay it after I finish the game. Many people forget that most people sold games to buy a new one, having the right to sell games only increase the console owner ability to buy a new game. I mean look at steam, most people only buy games on steam if it's discounted 90% or only play free to play games.
@thedevilsjester After seeing my backlog I think it's better if the games industry stop selling games for at least 1 year so I can clear all my ps4 games lol
@dryrain "Allowing physical games to be bought then resold many times means means the revenue ends as soon as the game is sold."
The second hand game industry keeps thousands of retail outlets open nationwide, it also introduces gamers with smaller wallets the chance to experience new franchises, just like antique shops, record shops and used car dealerships. I'm unsure what you do for a living but I sold a car to a dude working at CEX a few weeks ago its how economies work - both of us sell old stuff to pay our bills. If you fancy paying Microsoft to "licence" games dont think it will stop there. I've been paying Microsoft and its shareholders thousands of pounds every year to use the same bog standard office programs, why wouldn't they want that model with our games? (they did about 4 years ago)
I expect the trend to continue. I bought a lot less games period in 2016, part due to less free time, part due to sequel fatique, part due to the fact a lot of games were just "good" but not a lot of games that were "you must buy this now."
The video game industry still being unwilling to share digital sales tells me they are still not giving them a huge boost. Because you don't want your stock to fall in the end, investors want to hear good news. So if you sold a ton digitally, you would flaunt that. But they don't... because I bet even COD only sells maybe 200k online (on consoles).
@dryrain I agree, don't get me wrong I love having physical still, but objectively looking at this issue says to me that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo really need to go all digital, put in place a service that is both consistently fast and reliable with great deals on, a new game on steam can cost £40 whereas on PSN you're looking at £54.99.
Releasing an absolute ton of AAA between September and December is stupid and its finally catching up. RRP for a lot of games is something daft like £60+ although most go for £40 and under.
While worrying i guess it makes sense when you look at it. Most pc games are sold through steam, wii u had few new releases, boxed vita games are increasingly rare, with alot of titles being digital only. 3ds has had some great games but limited in number this year, whilst ps3 and 360 sales are drying up. That puts alot of pressure on ps4 and xbone to pick up the slack. As others have said, with a very strong line up for Sony in 2017, plus the release of switch, the figures for 2017 will be very interesting and could make very different reading.
As I have said before, people are tiring of the same old tired sequels which doesn't help matters.
Was going to write the same thing. If digital sales were making up any kind of deficit of note there's no question publishers would let us know over and over and over again. That they're not clearly says digital sales are a disaster as well.
@Wesker You're absolutely correct. It makes sense for kids to buy PC. For one parents think it's for school (which it is), their whole social life revolves around the internet and games are dirt cheap on PC. It's frustrating not being able to see quantitative console retail and digital sales numbers. Instead we're just get reports that 'This week sales were good' or 'This week sales were bad'. Why isn't the press getting hard figures for us?
@dryrain You say games companies miss out on millions in second hand revenue, and while this is absolutely true, it doesn't have to be.
First you have to understand that a game makes the vast majority of its profits in the first six months. After that they are not "missing out" on anything other than table scraps that wouldn't have amounted to much anyway.
Second, there is nothing (other than greed) preventing used game stores from returning a percentage of their profits back to the developers/publishers (and I have heard about some shops that do this). Were that, say, a legal (or contractual) obligation for the first six months or so, then used game sales can work with new game sales to turn a profit for the developers/publishers. This was what "Online Passes" were trying to do, though it failed because it put the onus on the buyer, not the seller.
Personally I dropped PC gaming (after ~15 years of PC gaming) when I could no longer go into a store and pick up a physical copy of the games I want, and I would drop Console gaming just as quickly if they moved all digital and I am sure I am not the only one.
@Gamer83 Yeah, some gamers get confused that are on these websites. "Well look at the comments, 80% of the people use digital! That's the future!"
It's like, no. You looking at (optimisitically) 100 comments. So 80% of the most hardcore people are buying digital.
The majority of people by and large go physical. I for one still go physical on everything I can, except for PC, but with Steam why pay more than $5 for a game ever.
2017 could be a bumpy road for the gaming industry as a whole with rising dev costs and lower sales.
Am I one of the only teenagers who buys pretty much only physical games?
Personally, I don't like the rise of digital, I think it's a shame because the game shop is where I go when I'm bored and I've got a fiver in town, to buy some second hand game. This is pretty vital, because most of my games are second hand considering the extortionate prices of new games, and I also love a good game shop, jus' cuz. But game shops or not, physical is the way to go. It just feels like more of a worthwhile thing to spend your money on than a download, because it's something you can actually hold, something you can add to a collection, and something that you don't have to download for hours before you play it. Most importantly, it supports the games industry, which is a pretty important thing if you want to carry on playing games... Plus, there is the option for cheaper second hand games with physical, which are usually found much cheaper than the same game on the Playstation Store or whatever.
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