New reports commissioned by British publisher body ELSPA have found that the game software market in the UK has grown by over 100 per cent in the past six years, far outstripping the growth of other media.
Unveiled this morning at EGN, the two reports were compiled by market research experts Screen Digest, and provide a comprehensive look at key trends within the interactive entertainment market.
In the six year period from 1997 to 2003, according to the research, the videogame software market in the UK grew by 100 per cent - compared with growth in cinema box office revenues of 30 per cent, VHS and DVD rental growth of 14 per cent, and a decline of 4.5 per cent in music retail sales.
This growth has helped to sustain the UK's position as the largest territory in Western Europe for games, with a market larger than France and Germany combined, and as the third largest market in the world after the USA and Japan.
Screen Digest's figures estimate that the UK market for game hardware and software - not including PC hardware - was worth over UKP 2 billion in 2003 for a second year running, while the global market was worth some $18.2 billion, an annual rise of 10.8 per cent. The reports predict that the market will be worth $21.1 billion by 2007.
Perhaps more importantly for the UK as a whole, the leisure software industry contributed UKP 200 million to the country's balance of trade in 2003, according to Screen Digest's calculations - which again compares favourably to other media such as film and TV, which continue to be substantially in the red in terms of balance of trade.
"Our research suggests there is plenty more scope for strong sales within the current console cycle," according to Screen Digest chief analyst Ben Keen. "However, innovation is the cornerstone of the games industry and we expect the launch of exciting new handheld machines to give the market a huge boost ahead of the next generation of TV-based consoles."
The two reports which have been compiled by Screen Digest on behalf of ELSPA are Interactive Leisure Software: Global Market Assessment and Forecasts to 2007, which will be made available for purchase later this week on GamesIndustry.biz, and European Video Games: The 2004 State Of The Industry Report, which will be published in October.