Sony and Microsoft were both crowing yesterday after the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (iGEA) released the results of an NPD Group report on the state of he Australian video games industry – even though the report showed a near-13 percent downturn in retail games sales in 2011.
Sony claimed its PlayStation 3 was the No 1 selling games console with a 24.85 percent year-on-year uplift in unit sales.
“Despite a very eventful year, these results signal the PlayStation platform’s leadership position in the interactive games category in Australia,” said Michael Ephraim, MD of Sony Computer Entertainment Australia.
“The uplift on PS3 sales was no small feat – in fact, our percentage year-on-year unit growth was triple that of our nearest competitor”.
But the “nearest competitor” – presumably Microsoft – was also crowing, claiming its Xbox 360 was the only games platform to show growth in 2011, with a gain of 5 percent.
“It’s clear to see that the momentum in this industry is with Microsoft and the Xbox platform,” said David McLean, director of Microsoft Australia’s consumer channels group. “We won at the telling Christmas period, we are standalone in our growth this year and looking at the past five years our consistency is unprecedented”.
Actually no-one had much to gloat about. NPD reported that traditional retail computer and video games sales plunged 12.8 percent in 2011.
However the iGEA stressed that the NPD data excludes sales from online retail, downloadable content, online games subscriptions, in-game micro-transactions and mobile games – all reflecting a swing away from retail games sales to digital, with many players switching to free or very cheap games on smartphones or tablets.
However it’s not all freebies. Local technology analyst firm Telsyte estimates that in 2012 Australians will spend more than $450 million in online gaming subscriptions and in-game purchases.
“Online gaming subscriptions and in-game virtual goods sales are growing strongly in Australia, and will account for around 20 percent of the overall digital goods and online subscriptions market (which consists of 26 categories such as Internet video, Internet music and digital news subscriptions) in 2012,” said Telsyte senior research manager Sam Yip.
Also looking on the bright side was Ron Curry, CEO of iGEA, who said: “Overall, we’re seeing a lot of evidence point towards a continuing healthy interactive games industry. The incredible success of games such as Call of Duty 3: Modern Warfare 3 which became the fastest entertainment property to hit the $1 billion milestone globally, eclipsing the previous record set in 2009 by the film Avatar, is only one example.”