The UK Game Sector is in rude health, worth £3.864bn according to new figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA). That’s more than double what it was worth back in 2007, when FIFA 08 and Call of Duty 4 ruled the roost.
Tastes clearly haven’t changed though, with three games selling over one million physical copies in 2018: FIFA 19, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2. The word “physical” is important here, as it means that digital, free to play or mobile titles hide under the radar.
That means that the video games sector is now bigger than video and music combined. The whole sector, according to the ERA is worth an all-time high of £7.537bn, giving games a 51.27 per cent slice of the delicious sales pie. In total, the ERA said that digital services – Spotify, Netflix, Steam, what have you – accounted for 76.1 per cent of sales.
Gaming experienced a similar divide, with £3,094 billion generated from digital downloads (a rise of 12.5 per cent on 2017), while physical sales fell to £769.9 billion (a slight dip of 2.8 per cent).
“The games industry has been incredibly effective in taking advantage of the potential of digital technology to offer new and compelling forms of entertainment,” said Kim Bayley, chief executive of the ERA. “Despite being the youngest of our three sectors, it is now by far the biggest.”
Although the majority of the best-selling physical games were multi-format, the full list shows what a good year Nintendo had, with a number of Switch exclusives doing very nicely. Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Super Smash Bros Ultimate both make the top 20, as do Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – despite being 2017 releases. The latter hits the dizzy heights of fifth.
Despite all this success, the best-selling entertainment product wasn’t a game at all. Hollywood musical The Greatest Showman managed 2.69 million British sales – and 1.91 million were on DVD or Blu Ray. There’s just no accounting for taste.