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How well did UK games retail perform in 2016?

Consoles, accessories and boxed games drop 15.8% to £1.78bn

The full year figures from GfK show that the UK physical games market fell 15.8% to £1.78bn in 2016, GamesIndustry.biz can reveal.

That number includes combined sales of physical games, console hardware, accessories, digital points cards and toys-to-life figurines. It does not include TV consoles such as the NES Mini.

It was console hardware that suffered the biggest drop. Sales of PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, 3DS and legacy devices generated £503m in 2016, which is down 27% compared with the £689.5m made in 2015. Despite the release of PS4 Pro and Xbox One S, almost every console dropped in sales (in terms of units and revenue) year-on-year - with the exception of Nintendo's 3DS family of consoles, which were boosted by the huge success of Pokemon Sun and Moon.

It suggests that the accelerated console cycle is causing a steeper drop off in sales than would usually be expected at this point.

In more pleasing news, the money generated by gaming accessories in 2016 actually grew by 1% to £501m. It's an impressive achievement when you consider this includes toys-to-life figures, a sector under pressure following the cancellation of the Disney Infinity brand. One of the key reasons for this growth was VR, with PlayStation VR in particular proving a strong seller in the category. If PlayStation VR had not been released, the accessories market would have declined in 2016.

GfK supplied us with the below Top 20 UK Accessories of 2016. Note, the firm has stripped out PlayStation VR, toys-to-life and digital content from the chart.

Position Accessory/Peripheral
1 Xbox One Black Wireless Controller
2 PS4 DualShock 4 Controller - Black
3 PS4 DualShock 4 Controller V2 - Black
4 Xbox One S White Wireless Controller
5 Xbox One Chat Headset
6 Ear Force Recon 50X Headset Black (Turtle Beach)
7 Xbox One Play and Charge Kit - Black
8 Ear Force XO One Headset (Turtle Beach)
9 Xbox One Twin Docking Station Black (Venom)
10 Ear Force Recon 50P Headset (Turtle Beach)
11 Nintendo 3DS XL Power Adapter
12 Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter
13 PS4 DualShock Controller - Wave Blue
14 PS4 DualShock Controller - Magma Red
15 Ear Force Recon 30X Headset (Turtle Beach)
16 Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller
17 Xbox One Twin Battery Packs - Black (Venom)
18 Guitar Hero Live: PS4 Guitar Controller
19 Sony PS4 Camera V2
20 Wireless Stereo Headset 2.0 Black (Sony)

Yet the biggest area of interest is the software market. UKIE/GFK figures show that £776m was generated by boxed software sales (including toys-to-life starter packs) in 2016, a drop of 16.4% compared with the £927.6m of 2015.

The figure is disappointing, with some big titles failing to deliver and a severe drop off in Xbox 360 and PS3 software sales. However, not everyone will be disappointed with the results. UKIE provided GamesIndustry.biz with additional information over publisher and platform performance, so that we can better understand the trends impacting the UK physical games sector.

PS4, Xbox One and 3DS dominate

In terms of platforms, it's no surprise to see the newer Microsoft and Sony consoles dominate in terms of software market share. Almost 80% of all boxed games sold last year were either on PS4 or Xbox One, while in 2015 that number sat at 66%. PS3 and 360 games accounted for just 8.1% of sales, whereas in 2015 that number was closer to 20%.

A lack of games on Wii U saw the software market share of that device drop to 2.5%, but Nintendo will be delighted by the performance of 3DS. That machine increased its software market share year-on-year, an impressive achievement when you consider the machine is over five years old. Nintendo's success there was down primarily to the performance of Pokemon Sun and Moon, which were the 21st and 23rd best-selling games of the entire year.

Software Share by Platform - Units

Last Year This Year Platform Software Market Share (Units)
1 1 PS4 45%
2 2 Xbox One 34.1%
5 3 Nintendo 3DS 7%
3 4 Xbox 360 5.2%
4 5 PS3 2.9%
7 6 Wii U 2.5%
6 7 PC 2.3%
8 8 Wii 0.5%
10 9 PlayStation Vita 0.4%
9 10 Nintendo DS 0.1%

In terms of software revenue (as opposed to units), the top platforms are largely the same, although the split between the growth machines and the rest of the chart is pronounced. Once again PS4, Xbox One and 3DS all grew, and all three accounted for 90% of the entire boxed software market - this is due to the generally higher priced software on current generation machines.

Software Share by Platform - Revenue

Last Year This Year Platform Software Market Share (Revenue)
1 1 PS4 48.2%
2 2 Xbox One 36.3%
5 3 Nintendo 3DS 6%
3 4 Xbox 360 3.3%
6 5 Wii U 2.1%
4 6 PS3 1.8%
7 7 PC 1.7%
8 8 Wii 0.2%
9 9 PlayStation Vita 0.2%

EA now accounts for over 22% of all boxed games sold

Another year, another dominant performance from Electronic Arts in terms of the number of boxed games sold. The company increased its share for yet another year by almost 3% and now accounts for 22.1% of the UK physical software market.

There are two very good reasons for this - FIFA and Battlefield. FIFA 17 sold 2.5m boxed units during 2016 (almost double it nearest competitor) whereas Battlefield 1's impressive performance meant EA published two of the three games to shift over 1m copies in 2016. In terms of revenue, EA's dominance was even more significant - accounting for more than 26% of the money spent on boxed games.

Warner Bros dropped out of the Top Five publisher rankings due to a lighter release slate in 2016 versus the year before. Bethesda also dropped down the list slightly, although that shouldn't come as a surprise considering 2015 featured the massive success of Fallout 4. Bethesda still enjoyed some success with the HD remake of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Doom, which both charted within the Top 20 for the year.

Meanwhile, all three platform holders increased their share of the UK boxed software market year-on-year. Nintendo, primarily due to Pokemon Sun and Moon, returned to the Top Five with a 1.6% market share growth. Sony increased its share by 1.4% on the back of Uncharted 4, while Microsoft stays at No.8, but increased its software share by 0.3% thanks to the surprise performance of Forza Horizon 3. That game was the tenth best-seller of the year, and the only racing game to make the entire Top 40 (its nearest competitor is F1 2016 at No.41).

An additional note on the publisher rankings is that these only factor in physical sales. So PC-focused publishers such as Valve do not appear in the charts as that market is almost entirely digital (furthermore, companies such as Sega may well have appeared higher if PC download data was included).

Top 20 UK Games Publishers - Units

Last Year This Year Company Name Software Market share (Units)
1 1 Electronic Arts 22.1%
2 2 Activision Blizzard 12.1%
4 3 Ubisoft 9.5%
6 4 Nintendo 8.2%
5 5 Take-Two 7.4%
9 6 Sony 7.1%
3 7 Warner Bros 6.4%
8 8 Microsoft 6.2%
7 9 Bethesda 5.4%
11 10 Square Enix Europe 3.3%
10 11 Bandai Namco 1.7%
17 12 505 Games 1.5%
15 13 Koch Media 1.2%
14 14 TellTale Games 1.1%
13 15 Konami 1%
20 16 Codemasters 0.8%
16 17 Sega 0.7%
12 18 Disney 0.7%
18 19 Capcom 0.7%
21 20 Little Orbit 0.3%

If you ever needed proof of the predictability of the sales charts, then look no further than the 2016 Top 50. FIFA 17 at No.1, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare at No.2 and Battlefield 1 at No.3.

It is another chart utterly dominated by major sequels. There are just five new IP in the All-Formats Top 50 - Tom Clancy's The Division, Overwatch, Rocket League (which was released digitally in 2015), No Man's Sky and Steep. However, two of those new brands did make it into the Top Ten, with The Division in particular reaching No.4 (it was the fastest selling new IP in UK chart history when it launched in March).

Another remarkable achievement is Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar's opus may have been three years old last year, but it was still the fifth best-selling game of 2016. It has now sold well over 6m copies at UK retail.

The highest charting exclusive game was Uncharted 4: A Thief's End at No.6. The PS4 game was heavily bundled with consoles and was comfortably the top exclusive of the year. Officially, Microsoft's Forza Horizon 3 was the second best-selling exclusive game at No.10. However, it wouldn't have been if the sales of Pokemon Sun and Moon on 3DS had been combined.

In not so positive news, it was a tough year for toys-to-life. LEGO Dimensions, released in 2015, was the best-selling game in the genre at No.38, Disney Infinity 3 was at No.43, while Skylanders Imaginators scrapes in at No.49.

Outside of the Top 50, notable games include Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (No.57), Homefront: The Revolution (No.59), Dead Rising 4 (No.62), Football Manager 2017 (No.63 - and the best-selling PC boxed game of the year), Quantum Break (No.65), The Last Guardian (No.68), Battleborn (No.73), Street Fighter V (No.79), Mirror's Edge Catalyst (No.80) and Yo-Kai Watch (No.89).

There were six Pokemon games in the Top 100 and six LEGO games.

The All-Formats UK Top 50 Boxed Chart 2016

Position Title Publisher/Developer
1 FIFA 17 EA/EA Canada
2 Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Activision/Infinity Ward
3 Battlefield 1 EA/EA DICE
4 Tom Clancy's The Division Ubisoft/Massive
5 Grand Theft Auto V Rockstar/Rockstar North
6 Uncharted 4: A Thief's End Sony/Naughty Dog
7 Call of Duty: Black Ops III Activision/Treyarch
8 Watch Dogs 2 Ubisoft/Ubisoft Montreal
9 Overwatch Blizzard
10 Forza Horizon 3 Microsoft/Playground Games
11 Mafia III 2K Games/Hangar 13
12 Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition Bethesda
13 FIFA 16 EA/EA Canada
14 LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Warner Bros/TT Games
15 Doom Bethesda/id Software
16 LEGO Marvel Avengers Warner Bros/TT Games
17 Star Wars Battlefront EA/EA DICE
18 Minecraft: Xbox Edition Microsoft/4J Studios
19 Far Cry Primal Ubisoft/Ubisoft Montreal
20 Gears of War 4 Microsoft/The Coalition
21 Pokemon Sun Nintendo/Game Freak
22 Fallout 4 Bethesda
23 Pokemon Moon Nintendo/Game Freak
24 Final Fantasy XV Square Enix
25 Rocket League 505 Games/Psyonix
26 WWE 2K17 2K Games/Yuke's and Visual Concepts
27 Titanfall 2 EA/Respawn
28 EA Sports UFC 2 EA/EA Canada
29 No Man's Sky Sony/Hello Games
30 Dishonored 2 Bethesda/Arkane
31 Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege Ubisoft/Ubisoft Montreal
32 Ratchet and Clank Sony/Insomniac
33 LEGO Jurassic World Warner Bros/TT Games
34 Minecraft: PlayStation Edition Sony/4J Studios
35 Dark Souls III Bandai Namco/From Software
36 Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 EA/Popcap Games
37 Rise of The Tomb Raider: 20th Anniversary Edition Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics
38 LEGO Dimensions Warner Bros/TT Games
39 Minecraft: Story Mode TellTale Games
40 Just Cause 3 Square Enix/Avalanche Studios
41 F1 2016 Codemasters/Codemasters Birmingham
42 WWE 2K16 2K Games/Yuke's and Visual Concepts
43 Disney Infinity 3.0 Disney/Avalanche Software
44 Assassin's Creed Syndicate Ubisoft/Ubisoft Quebec
45 Steep Ubisoft/Ubisoft France
46 Halo 5: Guardians Microsoft/343 Studios
47 Guitar Hero Live Activision/FreeStyleGames
48 Just Dance 2017 Ubisoft/Ubisoft France
49 Skylanders Imaginators Activision/Toys For Bob
50 Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Square Enix/Eidos Montreal
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Christopher Dring avatar

Christopher Dring

Head of Games B2B

Chris is a 15-year media veteran specialising in the business of video games. And, erm, Doctor Who