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UK games retail market struggles in March

Far Cry 5 is the biggest game of the month

March 2018 was a tough one for the UK games market, as the number of games sold slumped 18% year-on-year to 1.37m copies.

Revenue plunged even further, down 24.7% compared with March 2017. In total, £44.4m was generated from boxed game sales.

It's the first month of decline this year. The first two months of 2018 were up over the comparative period in 2017. This is primarily due to Nintendo Switch, which was not on the market during January and February last year, and its games have been selling significantly (particularly compared with Nintendo's previous Wii U machine).

Switch has been masking a rather disappointing year for game launches. And now we're seeing that play out in the numbers during March.

March last year was a big one. Not only did it see the launch of Switch - alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - but also saw the success of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Mass Effect Andromeda.

This year was comparatively disappointing. But there is clearly demand for big games, as proven by this month's best-seller: Far Cry 5. It's the second year in a row that Ubisoft had the biggest selling game of March.

Far Cry 5 was only on the market for a week when these numbers were counted, but it was comfortably the best-selling title of the month. It sold four times the number of second place FIFA 18.

The second best-selling new game in the charts is Sea of Thieves at No.4. The Xbox exclusive performed strongly in a box, but PC sales are not included. Nor are those that have accessed the game from Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass offering.

Burnout Paradise makes its return in Remastered form at No.8. It's one of two new EA games in the charts, with A Way Out at No.11.

The remainder of Spring and Summer isn't awash with major game releases. There are a handful that may prove interesting. Sony is planning to launch God of War next month, while Nintendo has its Labo project and a handful of mid-level Switch titles (including Mario Tennis Aces in June). The Crew 2 is also slated for release in June, too.

Yet the market isn't expected to pick up until September, with big games such as Spider-Man for PS4, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Spyro The Dragon and FIFA 19.

Here is the UKIE/GfK March 2018 Charts:

January December
1 New Entry Far Cry 5
2 1 FIFA 18
3 5 Grand Theft Auto V
4 New Entry Sea of Thieves
5 8 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe
6 6 Call of Duty: WWII
7 10 Super Mario Odyssey
8 New Entry Burnout Paradise Remastered
9 13 PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
10 3 EA Sports UFC 3
11 New Entry A Way Out
12 12 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
13 15 Fallout 4
14 10 Assassin's Creed Origins
15 New Entry Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
16 2 Monster Hunter World
17 19 Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6: Siege
18 14 Rocket League Collectors Edition
19 New Entry Kirby Star Allies
20 New Entry Assassin's Creed Rogue Remastered
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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

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