Gaming is now twice the size of the movie industry and the hottest selling DVD in Australia last year was the boxed set of the locally produced drama Underbelly according to the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) who today released GFK data that showed that games industry revenue was $1.96 billion in 2008 which was an increase of 47 per cent over 2007.
Sales of games software increased 57 per cent from the previous year, and game console sales increased 43 per cent. Also booming was sales of gaming accessories which was 68 per cent up on 2007.
It also appears that the Nintendo Wii has grown family game sales by a whopping 157 per cent making it the number one gaming category.
Box office takings for the same period were up 6 per cent to $946 million, the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia said. Total revenue for movies sold on disc grew 5 per cent to $1.4 billion, the Australian Visual Software Distributors Association (AVSDA) said.
Ron Curry, chief executive officer of the IEAA, said gaming had evolved from “the guy sitting in his bedroom with his PC being anti-social” to a “much more social and a whole family event”.
A recent research report from Bond University showed that 68 per cent of Australians played video games and 88 per cent of houses had a gaming machine. The report also said that the average age of gamers is 30 years old and 68 per cent of all Australians play video and computer games.
“We’ve seen a 137 per cent increase in family games – things like music and dance games, party games, puzzle games, that sort of stuff is really making up the bulk of the dollars,” Curry said.
Sony Computer Entertainment managing director Michael Ephraim told the SMH said: “It’s clear now that the [games] industry is the nucleus of entertainment – it has come out of the bedroom, into the living room, and on to every kind of device, and we’re going to see another few years of considerable growth.”
Also in the SMH Steve Wilson, chief executive officer of games retailer EBGames, said 2008 “was still very much Nintendo’s year”. The Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS dominated the market, followed by the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, respectively, which were neck and neck.
Wilson said the Wii’s success was largely due to the fact that Nintendo continued to churn out family-friendly games such as Wii Fit and Mario Kart. For hardcore gamers, Grand Theft Auto IV was the standout performer.
“Most, if not all of the games [on Nintendo Wii] are multiplayer and more social than previously, where it’s been more of a singular activity,” he said.
Wilson said the PlayStation 2, which can now be had for $130, continued to sell well thanks to social titles such as karaoke game SingStar ABBA and quiz game Buzz.