In the face of steadily declining numbers in previous years 2013, it seems, was a stronger year for video games at retail. With the release of new consoles and the continued success of the 3DS, retail held steady, whilst digital sales increased dramatically.
According to research group NPD, a 13 per cent bump in hardware sales at retail was partly responsible. Sales of the Xbox One and PS4 no doubt helped contribute. In total $1.13 billion in traditional retail sales was recorded. Software sales accounted for $654 million of that total.
The sales story for the Australian games industry has been relatively bleak over the last couple of years, mainly because there was a real difficulty in communicating the business's transition from retail to digital sales. The recorded retail numbers were dropping but, with no way to record precisely how much was being made across various different digital networks (such as iOS, Xbox LIVE and Google Play) it was difficult to argue that the market for video games in this country was actually growing, not shrinking.
But, for the second year running, the IGEA commissioned research into how much Australians were spending digitally and that number has increased dramatically: at total of $899 million, a 50 per cent increase over last year. That might be the real story here: the massive year-on-year increase in digital spending, particularly in the mobile space.
"Consumers spent more than $452 million on mobile games in 2013, with 70 per cent of that on in-game, micro-transactions," said Sam Yip, Senior Research Manager for Telsyte. "At this rate, mobile game revenue could exceed that for physical games within a couple of years."
Ron Curry, CEO of the IGEA, was pleased with the results.
"Traditional sales have remained steady across the industry," he said. "Despite concerns about retail, software sales recorded over $654 million dollars for 2013. The data from NPD Group is encouraging and shows that bricks and mortar retailers have maintained their fundamental role in providing hardware, software, digital content and merchandise to consumers. According to the Telsyte data, more consumers are in fact now purchasing their content digitally and overall we can see that the interactive games and entertainment industry is really thriving."