GfK Chart-Track's Dorian Bloch examines this year's list
We took up the challenge of coding every game that sells in the UK back in 2004, and by the launch of the first Develop 100 co-produced wiith Chart-Track (covering sales in 2005) we had coded up around 10,000 individual products.
Roll on to the end of 2009 for the latest edition and this had risen to 17,500 products, all with developer credit to an Independent or publisher owned studio and a country of coding origin.
This means that we have probably the most accurate database of titles anywhere in the world.
Sure, this is applied to sales in the UK, the third largest gaming market in the world and therefore cannot account for the cultural differences that would apply if we included USA and Japan.
Nevertheless, this makes for a fascinating account of what actually sells in the UK, coupled to developer share rather than the more traditional publisher share of the market which is reported the world over.
We recognise the importance of giving credit where credit is due which is why every week we list the developer against each title in our standard weekly report, as seen on our website and as subscribed to by just about every publisher active in this market.
The international profile of the ‘Charts’ is higher than ever. Some publishers and developers are now reaping the benefits with the monthly syndicated reports that rank developers according to their ongoing performance in the UK charts.
Feel free to get in touch if you might enjoy more regular updates – you’ll even receive a full monthly report for free to give you an idea of what’s on offer (the monthly ranking of publisher-owned and independent studios, the top titles by format and even a sales breakdown by territory). Ad-hoc reports are available at any time on a developer’s own titles – or its competitors’.
Let us cast our minds back to the fairly recent history of 2007, the first year when we had all of the current generation systems in place and the start of Nintendo’s domination of the No1 developer spot, now 3 years in a row.
Nintendo’s domination signalled the widening ‘casual’ demographic in the traditional console gaming market, with games like ‘Dr Kawashima Brain Training’ on DS and ‘Wii Fit’/’Wii Play’.
By the end of 2009 ‘Dr Kawashima’ was still the biggest selling stand-alone game of all time in the UK (3.5m units) and ‘Wii Fit’/’Wii Play’ occupied positions 4&5 in the all time volume sellers list.
No2 was Rockstar’s ‘GTA: San Andreas’, the defining moment from the previous PS2 generation back in 2004.
No3 has it’s own section below - ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’ was the title that single-handedly swung the market back to a more traditional core gamer focus.
So, three Nintendo 1st party titles on single formats occupy slots in the all time Top 5 volume sellers, a pretty impressive feat. And all of the above is before we even mention ‘Wii Sports’, which is bundled with every Wii console and found a place within 1 in 4 UK homes by the end of 2009 that is 6.5m Nintendo Wii’s installed in the UK and therefore 6.5m copies of ‘Wii Sports’.|
And so, by the end of 2009 one console per person living in the UK had been sold (cumulative console sales since 1995 are around 61m, UK population 2009 was around 61.5m).
UK DEVELOPER TRENDS
Of all the thousands of games titles that we tracked and the revenue generated in 2007, the average across all developers turned out to be 360 with 21per cent, DS with 20per cent, PS2 with 17per cent, Wii with 15per cent, PS3 with 10per cent, PC 10per cent and PSP 7per cent.
Looking at 2009 and the percentage share has changed dramatically, with 360 continuing to climb (28per cent), Wii just about holding steady (24per cent, actually up from No4 to No2), PS3 doubling (21per cent, up from No5 to No3), DS declining 4per cent (16per cent, down from No2 to No4), PC also down 4per cent (6per cent, No5) and then PSP (3per cent) and PS2 (2per cent).
When looking at all products sold in 2007 the share for independent studios was 39 per cent (with 61per cent being publisher owned). In 2009 this had dropped to 36per cent independent (64per cent Publisher Owned), so at first glance not a huge decline.
However, the bigger difference is highlighted in the number of independent studios within the Top 100 – almost half in 2007 (48) compared to just over two-fifths in 2009 (42).
The Top 4 territories accounted for 90 per cent of all units sold in 2007 and 89per cent in 2009 and in descending order for 2009 they are USA at No1 (32per cent), Japan No2 (27per cent), UK No3 (18per cent), Canada No4 (13per cent). Within these numbers USA and Canada have remained stable, Japan has gained 1.2per cent and UK has lost 1.4per cent.
Within the UK (i.e. of the 18per cent of 75m units of product sold in the UK developed by UK studios), independent studios accounted for 42per cent, publisher owned 58per cent, and indie share has actually increased dramatically over 2008 (36per cent).
Reasons for this stem from the huge effect that Rockstar’s GTA IV had on UK developer market share in 2008 and is also due to new products in 2009 such as Virtua Tennis 2009 (Sumo Digital/Sega), F1 2009 (Sumo Digital/Codemasters), but moreover in Q309 the mega-hit Batman: Arkham Assylum (Rocksteady Studios/Eidos-Square-Enix) and also NFS: Shift (Slightly Mad Studios/EA).
Also of note is Asylum’s Peppa Pig: The Game, a notable success on DS and Gusto Games’ Wii version of Ashes Cricket 2009.
Within Canada a massive 82per cent of product sold is by a publisher owned studio, the most top-heavy of all 4 territories, but something that will come as no surprise given the investment over the years by EA, Ubisoft, Warner and others.
Products such as FIFA 10 (EA Canada), Assassin’s Creed II (Ubisoft Monteal) and Radical’s Prototype (Activision) spring immediately to mind.
A MODERN MARVEL
It is hard not to comment on the success of Infinity Ward at No2 this year, with the fastest-selling game of all time in the UK.
Launch was on Tuesday, 10th November 2009 and on Wednesday 11th Chart-Track was the first territory in the world to break the news on day 1 sales, announced as 1.23m at £47.7m.
The 24-hour sell through number beat the entire first week on sale for the previous record holder (Rockstar’s ‘GTA IV’ sold through 927K / £39.9m in its 5 day launch week).
It is amazing to note that in terms of the day 1 sell-through, the UK accounted for a massive 26per cent of the 4.7m estimated to have sold through in UK/USA.
So for the launch week we tracked the sales on a daily basis for Activision and we were again the first to break the news that ‘MW2’ racked up 1.78m units and generated £67.4m in the UK during week 1.
Putting that in perspective, Infinity Ward/Activision’s title grossed almost twice as much as the entire entertainment software market in the previous week.
The Xbox 360 version of ‘MW2’ was the lead format and sold over a million UK units in week 1 and grossed £38.5m…itself more than the entire market for the previous week.
By the end of 2009 ‘MW2’ had amassed 8 straight weeks at No1 and moved from simply within the Top 10 to being the No3 cumulative unit seller (2.93m) and the No1 revenue generator (£112m) in the history of UK videogaming.
So as we can see from above, 2009 was the year where the traditional videogame ‘core-gamer’ market proved that a truly high quality, cinematic, artistic, explosive, action-packed gaming experience could generate sales of such magnitude, that all other entertainment day 1 and 5 day entertainment industry box office, book and video game sell-through records were eclipsed.
On a global perspective the MW2 week 1 figure of $550m was way above the previous best, which was already a videogame at the top of the tree (GTA IV’s record was $500m).
For comparison with Hollywood, the cinematic world-wide box office record was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with $394m in 1 week.
Depending on the type of developer you are there is either rationalisation, merger, expansion, rude good health or just plain survival on the cards for your studio. Having a hit product in what might be ‘only’ the 3rd biggest territory in the world means that people tend to sit up and take notice of your talents.
Ultimately a studio is judged on the sales success of their games... so why shouldn’t they be recognised for the commercial success of their products?
Develop 100 is a fascinating report and a great read for all of you publishers and developers.
Dorian Bloch – Business Group Director, GfK Chart-Track.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8741 7585