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Black Friday physical game sales drop 20% over 2019 l UK Boxed Charts

FIFA 21 and Nintendo Switch are the big winners during a major week of discounts

Last week was one of the biggest retail sales periods of the year in the form of Black Friday, and more than 1 million boxed games were sold in the UK over the 7 days.

It's a big number, but it's still 20% down on last year's 1.3 million sales. However, considering the absence of High Street retailers (the UK is currently locked down due to COVID-19), and the changing nature of Black Friday (with retailers starting earlier and earlier), it seems like a reasonable result for the boxed games sector.

It was FIFA 21 that was the big Black Friday winner at the top of the charts. The EA game was actually discounted the week before (when sales rose 121%) and the discounting remained this week, resulting in a further 35% increase in sales week-on-week. The game has been available at retailers for around £35.

The other big winner of the week was Nintendo Switch. With PS5 and Xbox Series S and X almost entirely missing from shelves, Nintendo swooped in with an influx of new console stock and bundles. There was also some deals to be had and, as a result, boxed Switch game sales were up 33% last week. In fact, 9% more Switch games were sold during Black Friday 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.

Switch games accounted for over 38% of all boxed games sold during Black Friday week. The big seller was Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which rose to No.3 after a 58% weekly sales rise (coming on the back of a 36% rise the week before). It was followed closely by Mario Kart 8: Deluxe at No.4 (sales up 62% week-on-week). Other key Switch sellers were Minecraft at No.8 (sales up 26%) and Super Mario 3D All Stars at No.9 (up 54%).

Sticking with Switch, Just Dance 2021 finally enters the Top Ten, despite launching three weeks ago. The game enjoyed a massive 182% sales rise week-on-week, and although the Ubisoft game is a multi-format release, it predominantly sells on Nintendo's hybrid console.

Black Friday discounting meant that 33 of the Top 40 increased in sales week-on-week. Other key risers include Marvel Avengers, which re-enters the Top Ten at No.7 after an 80% sales rise. Sony did some big cuts on recent PS4 exclusives The Last of Us: Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima, which re-enter the charts at No.16 and No.23. Overall, PS4 game sales rose 49% week-on-week, which is a the biggest increase for any of the consoles during the period.

Some of the games that dropped in sales week-on-week include Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, which wasn't discounted during Black Friday and falls from No.1 to No.2 as a result (sales down 48% week-on-week). Assassin's Creed Valhalla also retained its launch price, and therefore drops from No.4 to No.5 with a slight 28% sales dip. And Spider-Man: Miles Morales also sticks with its £50+ price point, and slips to No.6 (down 36%).

Last week's new releases also fall down the charts. Fortnite: The Last Laugh Bundle is down from No.5 to No.13 after a 65% sales drop, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity plummets from No.6 to No.20 due to a 61% sales decline.

It's not all about discounting this week, with one new release in the charts -- Sega's Football Manager 2021 at No.31. The management simulator is a rare appearance from a PC game in the boxed charts. Like most PC games, Football Manager predominantly sells as a download.

Here is the GfK Top Ten for the week ending November 28th:

Last Week This Week Title
2 1 FIFA 21
1 2 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
8 3 Animal Crossing: New Horizons
9 4 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe
4 5 Assassin's Creed Valhalla
3 6 Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
12 7 Marvel's Avengers
10 8 Minecraft (Switch)
11 9 Super Mario 3D All-Stars
15 10 Just Dance 2021

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Christopher Dring avatar
Christopher Dring: Chris is a 17-year media veteran specialising in the business of video games. And, erm, Doctor Who
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