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Pokémon and Spyro top hyper competitive week at UK games retail

It's a tough start for Fallout 76 and Hitman 2

Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee for Nintendo Switch were the most successful video games at UK physical retail last week.

Technically, anyway. Let's Go Pikachu debuted at No.4 and Let's Go Eevee came in at No.6, but if sales of the two had been combined, then the games would have debuted at No.1.

It was a hyper competitive week at retail, and there are six new games in the Top Ten.

The launch of Pokémon Let's Go had a positive impact on Nintendo Switch hardware sales, which in turn boosted sales of other Switch games. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (No.9) sales increased 94 per cent, Super Mario Party (No.18) sales were up 25 per cent, Super Mario Odyssey (no.19) rose 30 per cent (No.19) and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (No.28) saw a 52 per cent sales spike.

Just Dance 2019 enjoyed a 465% sales leap - rising from No.39 to No.14 - primarily due to the Switch version. The game was included in a Switch hardware bundle that also included Pokémon.

However, Pokémon Let's Go's launch sales are down compared with previous major Pokémon titles. Opening week sales of Let's Go are down more than 60 per cent compared with 2016's Sun and Moon and are down five per cent compared with 2013's Pokémon X and Y.

However, there are a few caveats. Stock issues persisted in the UK with fewer than expected units coming in from Nintendo's European warehouse, which meant some pre-orders were not fulfilled (and many stores were sold out). Furthermore, both X and Y and Sun and Moon launched when 3DS had a slightly larger install base compared with the Switch currently. Download sales are also not included in this data.

Let's Go is also not billed as a full 'next generation' Pokémon game but rather an entry-level take on the series designed to pull in fans of Pokémon Go. Let's Go is actually a remake (of sorts) of 1999's Pokémon Yellow, and Nintendo will hope it attracts families and younger gamers. This audience typically isn't a 'week one' shopper so, if Nintendo succeeds, we should expect these games to hang around for some time.

Although Pokémon was technically the best performer of the week, because both games are listed separately, the official No.1 is Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Activision Blizzard's remaster has started strongly, and continues the firm's success with 1990s remakes following the impressive performance of Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy.

Like that game, the title has performed very well on PS4 - 75 per cent of Spyro's sales came on Sony's platform.

That means there are two sets of 1990s remakes which sit atop the UK charts this week. Nostalgia remains a potent sales tool for video games, which bodes well for the upcoming PlayStation Classic.

Pokémon and Spyro were two of four major games released at retail this past week. Unfortunately, the other two had a tricker time on the High Street.

Fallout 76 - an online multiplayer take on the franchise - was not expected to sell as strongly as Fallout 4. Of course, any new game from Bethesda Game Studios is still a major release, yet this title has got off to a slow start. Fallout 76 debuts at No.3, and sales are down 82.4 per cent compared with the previous game in the franchise - 2015's Fallout 4.

Even so, due to its higher retail price, Fallout 76 was actually the game that generated the most revenue at UK retail last week. Because of its budget price, Spyro was actually No.3 in the revenue charts.

Hitman 2 was the other big adult release of the week and it, too, had a weaker-than-usual opening. IO Interactive's stealth game debuts at No.10. The last Hitman title was an episodic digital release, so comparisons are impossible to make. Compared with 2012's Hitman Absolution, launch physical sales of Hitman 2 are down 90 per cent.

Of course, downloading now accounts for a bigger slice of sales than it did back in 2012, and digital sales are (as usual) not included.

It is early days for both titles. GAME speculated last week that the sheer number of releases this Q4 has resulted in consumers waiting a week or two to pick up the latest titles. The idea is that gamers are too busy playing other recently released games and are holding off buying new ones.

The data from GfK does show that - on certain titles - week two sales drops are not quite as steep as they have been in previous years. So GAME's theory may hold some truth.

Nevertheless, the sheer number of new titles coming to market is clearly having an impact on certain games. Whereas some titles have performed strongly (such as Spider-Man and Red Dead Redemption 2), others have performed well below their predecessors (such as FIFA 19 and Call of Duty). Retailers have told this week that Battlefield V may prove to be another victim, with pre-orders down considerably over previous games in the series.

One other new release this week was a physical version of Fortnite. The Deep Freeze Bundle debuts at No.8 in the charts and sales were split evenly between PS4, Xbox One and Switch - 34 per cent, 33 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.

Civilization VI also debuted at UK retail this week, although with everything going on, it didn't manage to make the All-Formats Chart. The game was No.18 in the Switch charts.

It's Black Friday next week, which should result in a strong week for game sales. In fact, some retailers have started their Black Friday sales early. Games such as FIFA 19, WWE 2K19, Far Cry 5 and Starlink all saw a steep increase in sales week-on-week.

Overall, 864.812 boxed retail games were sold last week, generating a total of £34.6 million.

Here is the UKIE/GfK Physical Retail Top 20 for the week ending November 17th

Last Week This Week Title
New Entry 1 Spyro Reignited Trilogy
1 2 Red Dead Redemption 2
New Entry 3 Fallout 76
New Entry 4 Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu
3 5 FIFA 19
New Entry 6 Pokémon Let's Go Eevee
2 7 Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
New Entry 8 Fortnite: Deep Freeze Bundle
6 9 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
New Entry 10 Hitman 2