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ELSPA reveals bookmakers favourites for Christmas No.1

As one of the most significant trading periods for the games industry nears its inevitable end for another year, the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association has revealed the contenders for the prestigious Christmas number one

As one of the most significant trading periods for the games industry nears its inevitable end for another year, the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association has revealed the contenders for the prestigious Christmas number one.

In conjunction with Ladbrokes the bookmaker, the list of new releases vying for the hotly contested number one sales position has been officially released, encouraging UK games fans to have a little festive flutter and potentially back a winner. Traditionally however, there have been a good few surprise winners over the years, and there's every chance that the current favourite will be relegated to 'also ran' status by a surprise contender.

ELSPA's director general, Roger Bennett, stated: "Christmas 2005 looks like it's set for another roaring trade in video games, with so many great titles in the running for the Christmas top spot. As ever, it's impossible to tell if the favourite will keep its lead and with such a large number of close competitors, we could have yet another surprise result this year."

Electronic Arts has a phenomenal success rate of sneaking into the top spot at the last moment, taking the charts by complete surprise last year as Need For Speed: Underground 2 stole the lead from Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. There's another Need For Speed waiting in the wings at the moment, though it's more likely that the latest Harry Potter title would be EA's best bet for a win this year.

David McMorrow, retail marketing manager for Ladbrokes commented: "Games with big movie tie-ins are once again going to prove extremely popular this Christmas. We're anticipating a roaring trade on The Chronicles of Narnia (3/1), monster sales of King Kong (6/1) and magical sales of Harry Potter (6/1) - so it's bound to be tight!"

The top ten contenders, with current odds offered by Ladbrokes are:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia - Buena Vista Games - 3/1
  • King Kong - Ubisoft - 6/1
  • Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire - Electronic Arts - 6/1
  • Prince of Persia 3 - Ubisoft - 6/1
  • Call of Duty 2: Big Red One - Activision - 8/1
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted - Electronic Arts - 8/1
  • Star Wars: Battlefront 2 - LucasArts - 12/1
  • GTA - Liberty City Stories - Rockstar - 16/1
  • FIFA 06 - Electronic Arts - 20/1
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 5 - Konami - 20/1

The release of Microsoft's next generation Xbox 360 console on December 2nd could have some impact on the competition, though it appears more likely that BVG's highly anticipated movie tie-in, which will be released on six different platforms, will take the lead for 2005. Combined multi-format sales will be used to calculate the Christmas number one, using the week ending December 18. Ladbrokes will take the final result from the ELSPA/Chart-Track official UK game sales chart.

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Paul Loughrey

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