Next-gen consoles, digital sales driving Australian video games industry

An overall steady performance sees the industry valued at $2 billion

The Australian video and computer games industry tipped over the $2 billion mark in 2013, with traditional hard-copy retail sales hitting $1.14bn and digital sales reaching an estimated $899 million, according to data from NPD Group Australia.

A 13 per cent hardware sales increase, resulting from the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4, was the key contributor to the traditional retail sector’s steady performance. Strong uptake of Nintendo’s 3DS and 2DS handheld consoles also contributed to the figure.

Within six weeks of sales of eighth generation console hardware in Australia, the value within the category (excluding portables) improved 27 per cent in 2013. Console accessories sales also improved year-over-year (YoY), driven by interactive gaming toys, and in particular the Skylanders and Disney Infinity brands.

“Despite concerns about retail, software sales recorded over $654m for 2013,” Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) chief executive officer (CEO), Ron Curry, said. “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.”

Unrestricted computer and video games (those classified as G, PG, or M), accounted for 55 per cent of all software unit sales.

The digital video games market, on the other hand, jumped almost 50 per cent over 2012.

According to Telsyte senior research manager, Sam Yip, the growth in digital sales is being driven by the popularity of mobile games which accounted for nearly half of all purchases within the category.

“Consumers spent more than $452m on mobile games in 2013, with 70 per cent of that on in-game, micro-transactions,” Yip said. “At this rate, mobile game revenue could exceed that for physical games within a couple of years.”

Digital downloads followed mobile games, amounting to $265m, with social and casual games recording $98m, and subscriptions finishing on $84m for the year.

Additionally, IGEA claims Steam now accounts for more than half of all Australian digital games spending in the PC market, driven by gaming events, deals, and special offers.

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