Copyright 2002

[ January 10th 2002 ]

Computer games-related revenues jumped by more than a third last year to a record pounds 1.6 billion, according to figures released yesterday by industry trade body the European Leisure Software Publishers Association.

The data, which comes a day after strong sales growth from leading games retailer Electronics Boutique, confirms that the long-awaited turnaround in the sector's fortunes has begun. However, analysts believe this year could be better still. Julian Morse, games analyst at Beeson Gregory, said: "Computer games are gradually becoming a growing proportion of retail purchases as the demographic group grows older at the top end. On top of that, the market will be massively boosted by UK launches this spring of the Microsoft Xbox and the Nintendo GameCube."

Last year's recovery was stimulated by the first full-year sales of Sony's PlayStation 2. A total of 1.7m units have now been sold since the console's UK launch in the run-up to Christmas 2000. Sales of console hardware, including the PlayStation 2, increased by 121pc to pounds 567m. In total, 4m units were sold in Britain, which is the third-largest games market after the US and Japan. Console software revenues were pounds 711m and a record 30.5m actual games were purchased, up 26pc on the previous year. However, the total value of personal computer games sold remained flat at pounds 346m, although unit numbers were up 10pc at 16.7m.

Nine games sold more than 300,000 copies, including Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and the latest Lara Croft offering, Tomb Raider 4, both developed by Eidos. Others in the top flight included multi-player wrestling classic, WWF Smackdown, from American developer THQ. Retailer Dixons also reinforced the upbeat gaming message yesterday by reporting strong first-half sales growth in games consoles.

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