UK games market grew 4.4% last year, physical sales decline ‘better than expected’

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The UK games market grew by 4.4% last year, according to trade body UKIE.

The body’s new Consumer Market Valuation Report shows that the UK games consumer market value was £7.82 billion ($9.76 billion) in 2023, compared to £7.49 billion ($9.34 billion) in 2022.

The report notes that game software sales increased by 4.1% to a total of £5.18 billion, of which less than 10% (around £495 million’s worth) were boxed software sales.

Physical software sales continued to drop – with a decline of 5% year-on-year – while digital console game sales, digital PC game sales and mobile game sales all saw increases.

Digital console game sales rose 5.6% to £2.48 billion, digital PC games were up 4.5% to £684 million, and mobile game sales increased by 4.5% to £1.52 billion.

In terms of hardware, the report says console hardware sales were up 12% year-on-year, while console accessories were up 3% and VR hardware was up 11%.

Not all hardware saw increases, however – PC game hardware dropped by 11% in 2023 compared to 2022.

Combined, all hardware sales brought in £2.22 billion last year, an increase of 2.1%.

UK games market grew 4.4% last year, physical sales decline ‘better than expected’

Dorian Block of GfK Entertainment commented that the decline in physical game sales was actually better than expected, thanks to some good performances on certain new releases and Zelda on Switch.

“In 2023 software revenue for Sony formats (PS4/PS5) overtook Nintendo formats (Switch),” he said. “Total sales achieved a higher overall ASP than any other year on record (£36 overall).This was achieved by the fact that there were 17 major titles in 2023 that remained above £50 over the entire year (accounting for 34% of 2023 revenue), compared to just 8 titles in 2022 (accounting for 21% of 2022 revenue).”

Reacting to the results, Omdia senior analyst James McWhirter said: “Digital spend within the UK’s console market returned to growth in 2023 as PlayStation 5 hardware sales volumes hit their stride, while Nintendo Switch remained remarkably resilient as a bumper lineup of first party software propped up active users and spend on the now seven-year-old platform.

“This helped grow and maintain an audience for high value digital content across both established and emerging games. Indeed, the UK games market was graced with no shortage of top performing new content as titles such as Diablo IV, Hogwarts Legacy, Spider-Man 2, Super Mario Bros Wonder, Tears of the Kingdom, EA Sports FC 24 and Baldur’s Gate 3 saw their release, among others.

“Meanwhile, declines in PlayStation 4 digital content spend were lower than anticipated, owing to the late arrival of Roblox to the platform in Q4, coupled with a prolonged cross-generation period which led to the release of major titles such as Hogwarts Legacy and Resident Evil 4 on the ten-year-old system.”

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