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Riccitiello: Retail in "pitched battle" for market share

As sales of boxed product fall, retailers "even more aggressive than we ever imagined," according to EA CEO

Electronic Arts' CEO John Riccitiello has described the competition for videogame sales on the High Street as a "pitched battle" between retailers scrambling for market share.

The Christmas period saw aggressive deals in Europe and the US, with supermarkets selling games below cost price, consoles bundled with new games for cut-price deals and massive marketing pushes for blockbuster games such as Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

"What we saw was very spirited retail competition that drove buy-ins for us and for a number of our competitors in specific cases, so what I think we're seeing now is a pitched battle between various retailers driving for market share," Riccitiello told investors.

The publisher has lowered its guidance for the full year, in part blaming poor sales of boxed product in Europe.

Results from specialist retail GAME this morning show that sales declined 18 per cent in the UK and Ireland over the five week Christmas period, with Chairman Peter Lewis admitting that bundled software and hardware partly offset gains the company made in other areas.

Speaking of promotions for EA product over the festive season, Riccitiello added, "We had a really good handle on what programmes we were going to run at retail and we were pleased to see some retailers get even more aggressive than we ever imagined on their own."

Data from GfK Chart-Track and ELSPA in the UK shows that the market for boxed product dropped 18 per cent in 2009, with only software sales for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 growing during the full year.

The NPD group is expected to reveal December sales in the US this week, with Wedbush Morgan predicting the market will be down 12 per cent compared to 2008, with sales of $2.45 billion.

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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