Retails down but Kiwis still love games

Last updated 13:25 13/02/2013

Latest figures on video game sales released by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) show that while sales are down at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, Kiwis still love their video games, spending $149 million on games at retail.

A press release from the association (sourced from PC World scribe Siobhan Keogh: thanks Siobhan!) says that the latest data  from independent market research group NPD Group, which includes revenue from console hardware, software and gaming peripherals sold at retail, shows sales were down 18 per cent year-on-year - but doesn't include sales from online retail, downloadable content, online games subscriptions, in-game micro-transactions and mobile games. That's services like Steam, Xbox Marketplace and PlayStation Network.

Personally, with the increase in mobile gaming and digital purchasing of games these days, the NPD Group needs to start including data for online sales in its research figure. It makes sense given how many gamers now source their games from online sites.

The iGEA's New Zealand director Mark Goodacre said in the release that the data fails to account for the growing popularity in the mobile and digital space. "As New Zealanders play video games across a broader range of mediums, it's becoming difficult to get a true indication of the value of the industry via a single source.  While there is a decline in traditional sales, the gaming industry as a whole remains buoyant ... Consumers are increasingly walking into retail stores to buy physical copies of a game, purchasing extras online and then buying a slimmed down version to play on their mobile phone".

Goodacre said the drop in physical sales was due ''in part to the ageing gaming consoles, a trend we saw back in 2005 at the end of the last console cycle".

The release also says that PriceWaterhouseCoopers' New Zealand Entertainment and Media Outlook 2012 - 2016 predicts that the NZ interactive games sector will experience an annual compound growth rate of 6.3 per cent for the coming four years, and the sector is expected to demonstrate the biggest growth in consumer spending (with the exception of the internet), outstripping the forecasted growth of music, film and subscription television.

The report noted that a survey by the New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA) revealed that there are were over 380 full-time game developers based in New Zealand in 2012 and 73 commercial games were released by New Zealand game studios between 2011 and 2012.

Other key findings from the report were:
*While overall hardware units declined by 13.8 per cent , high definition consoles saw a much slower decline of just 2.2 per cent
*Over the Christmas period, consumers were looking for value deals.  Consoles bundled with software or accessories grew by over 30 per cent  in value over the corresponding period last year
*Gaming headsets showed another year of growth in 2012. The Audio genre saw over 50 per cent increases in units and value over the previous year, due to strong sales of the Turtle Beach range
*There was increased spending on yearly franchises like Call of Duty, Assassins Creed and FIFA during December 2012, compared to December 2011

So, how do you buy your games these days? Are you still a bricks-and-mortar kind of gamer or do you shop online for physical discs from the comfort of your home? Or have you shunned traditional game media completely and are digital all the way? Let me know.

Other stuff you might be interested in: Game Junkie is on Twitter and you can email him here. He'll even answer your emails, not get some smart robot to do it. He also has another gaming blog here, which was actually updated recently. You should check it out.

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