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A disappointing week for UK game sales. Maybe.

Project Cars 2 makes it to No.2 as it struggles to reach heights of the original… or at least that's what we guess

It probably won't be long before we see the first headline that states how Project Cars 2's UK sales were 74% down compared to the first game.

Much like when we all reported how Destiny 2's UK figures were more than 50% down compared to its predecessor.

Now, it's completely likely that both of those games were down compared to their originals. The market is quite different today, and Destiny 2's audience has evolved. Project Cars 2 launches in a sales period that will see a new Forza, Gran Turismo and Need for Speed. Slightly Mad's racing IP doesn't have the brand recognition of those titles, and it would be a safe assumption that sales might struggle a little.

But it is an assumption. Because in the UK, we're not tracking digital sales, and it's gone beyond a farce.

We know, or at least we think we do, that AAA game downloads are rapidly increasing. EA says so in its financial briefings (it estimates that full game downloads will account for 40% of unit sales this year) and some chap I had dinner with heard that Destiny 2's sales are almost 30% digital.

If this is all true, then what exactly are we reporting? Physical retail sales figures do still matter. In the UK last week over 250,000 units were sold. It's not high compared with previous years, but it's still a huge number of games. And to those working in that boxed world, this information is vital.

But when it comes to how brands are performing, or how the overall market is developing, it's almost an irrelevance. To make matters more heated, I've had several almost-stand up rows with publishers over the reporting of said data. I've been accused (or my peers have) of misrepresenting game sales, but I'm not, they are.

The industry wants to know how things are performing. The consumers do, too. And the best we have (in the UK at least, NPD is doing a decent job in the US) are these physical game sales from GfK.

What makes matters more humiliating is that the the music industry - that old, old entertainment business - does an incredible job of tracking sales. The Official Charts Company even counts streams and radio plays. That business went through a painful digital transition, too, but they did it together.

We're beyond the digital tipping point now. If publishers are worried about upsetting physical retailers over the growth of digital I've got a secret for you... they already know.

Of course, we're a competitive industry. Why should developers and publishers share their secret sauce with its rivals?

Fair enough. In the mean time: Project Cars 2 physical sales are down 74% compared to its predecessor.

Here's UKIE/GfK's weekly Top Ten for the UK games market (physical):

Last WeekThis WeekTitle
11Destiny 2
New Entry2Project Cars 2
13NBA 2K18
34Pro Evolution Soccer 2018
New Entry5Pokken Tournament DX
76Grand Theft Auto V
97Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy
58Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
109Forza Horizon 3
1510LEGO Worlds

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Latest comments (5)

Simon Cowley Sales Manager Europe, NCsoft West23 days ago
We also released the latest expansion for the 11 million selling GW2 on Friday. No physical version in the UK this time...
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Rupert Loman Founder & CEO, Gamer Network23 days ago
And it was probably the biggest weekend of the year for gaming merch sales up at EGX - which doesn't get recorded anywhere afaik!
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Christopher Dring Publisher, GamesIndustry.biz23 days ago
@Rupert Loman: 'EGX 10' caps were probably top of this imaginary merchandise charts :-).

Insert Coin debuted four new lines at EGX, and a lot of them sold out. Ubisoft seemed to have a big show, too. How long before all the stands have a merchandise booth?
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Christopher Dring Publisher, GamesIndustry.biz23 days ago
@Simon Cowley: Yep. And Crash Bandicoot was this summer's biggest game, and not PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany22 days ago
Destiny 2 still in nš1. I know not many releases lately, but probably also because of people starting to get Destiny 2 after the people playing from the beginning began to spread the word about how much it has improved over the first one.
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