For years, I’ve been hearing that video games are bigger business than movies and music combined. But no one seems to know where this statistic comes from. It could be true.
One thing that is clear is that video game sales (hardware and software combined) are going through a period of explosive growth right now. In 2007, video game sales were up 27% year-on-year. This year, the predicted sales are a whopping 42% higher than last year, in the UK.
For the UK, at least, the ‘bigger than video and music combined’ sales figure seems to have come true, this year. Video game sales this year are predicted to sell £4.64 billion, to video and music combined sales of £4.46 billion.
This change is already manifesting on the high street; for a while now, media stores have been quietly removing shelf space for music and replacing it with games. Music sales are plunging, due in large part to rampant piracy. The BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones went so far as to write
it may be time to write the obituary for the old-fashioned music store. From now on it may be easier to find a rare early edition of Doom on the high street than to buy Bob Dylan’s bootleg series on CD
We seem to have reached some sort of tipping point; enough people are playing now that playing video games isn’t automatically associated with being a geeky social recluse.
And I’d think it’s also partly a recession effect – gaming is a cost-effective alternative to going out. If you drop £30 on Call of Duty 4, say, and play it for 40 or 50 hours, that works out to less than 75p an hour. Compared to hanging out at the pub or the myriad more expensive ways of whiling away the time, it starts to look like value for money in the entertainment department.
Plus, you don’t get to head-shot people in teh face at the pub.