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UK games sales dropped 6% in 2022 and console sales plunged 29%

UK Annual Report: New games delivered, with big sales for FIFA, Call of Duty, LEGO Star Wars, Elden Ring and God of War: Ragnarok

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At a glance

  • Video game sales fell 6% in the UK, but new game sales rose 20%
  • Console sales dropped 29% with a fall in sales for all major platforms
  • FIFA 23, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga are the best-selling games
  • Nintendo Switch was 2022's best-selling console, but sales down by nearly 28%

Sales of video games, consoles and accessories fell in 2022, due to ongoing stock shortages and a fall in popularity of older titles.

34.2 million games were sold in 2022, which is a drop of nearly 6% compared with 2021. This is according to GSD market data, which tracks all physical game sales and digital sales from most major publishers.

Almost 20 million of the games sold were via digital download stores, which is a drop of 3.4% over 2021. The remaining 14.2 million games were sold via physical retailers, which is a 9% fall year-on-year.

The reason for the drop in sales is because of older titles (games released in previous years). 13.9 million games sold during 2022 were new releases, which is a 20% increase over 2021. For more analysis on the performance of the new games market, check out this article from analyst Sam Naji.

To highlight the growth of the new games market: FIFA 23 sales are up 4% compared with FIFA 22. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sales are up 67% compared with the previous year's Call of Duty: Vanguard. And Pokémon Scarlet and Violet sales are up 36% compared with 2021's Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

We also saw that the transition from physical media to digital downloads slowed considerably in the UK last year. If we look purely at the games that were released both digitally and physically (so discounting all physical-only and digital-only games), 66% of games sold in the UK last year were downloaded. In 2021, the figure was 65%. This follows significant growth for digital downloading during the COVID-19 lockdown years of 2020 and 2021.

It's worth noting that Nintendo doesn't share digital download figures, so some of its titles may have charted higher as they are only counting physical game sales. The best-selling Nintendo game was Nintendo Switch Sports, although if we combine sales of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, those games would have appeared higher.

The best-selling games of the year were once again FIFA and Call of Duty. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga beat Elden Ring to third place.

New releases that missed out on the Top 20 include NBA 2K23 (No.22), Gotham Knights (No.25), Saints Row (No.28), Kirby and the Forgotten Land (No.31), Tiny Tina's Wonderlands (No.35), Splatoon 3* (No.38) and Football Manager 2023 (No.45).

Outside of the Top 50, there was Dying Light 2: Stay Human* (No.55), Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection (No.56), Just Dance 2023 (No.57), Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope (No.62), Total War: Warhammer 3 (No.77), Mario Strikers: Battle League Football* (No.80), The Last of Us: Part 1 (No.88) and Need For Speed Unbound (No.98).

Other releases such as PGA Tour 23, The Callisto Protocol, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII: Reunion, Ghostwire Tokyo, Evil Dead: The Game, Rainbow Six Extraction, Marvel's Midnight Suns, Two Point Campus, Sniper Elite 5, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, Stray and A Plague Tale: Requiem all finished outside of the Top 100. Some of those games were available in subscription services.

Fewer than 60,000 units seperated the three platforms by the end of the year.

In terms of consoles, GfK panel data reveals that two million games machines were sold in the UK during 2022, a drop of 29% over the year before.

This was mostly due to a big drop in PS5 and Nintendo Switch console sales. Sony's new machine was impacted by stock shortages for most of the year, and sales were down nearly 33% compared with 2021. Nintendo Switch sales fell 27.5%, but it still ended the year as the UK's most popular console.

In third position was Xbox Series S and X, but it did comparatively better than its competitors, with sales down nearly 15%. Again, Xbox Series X also suffered from low supply.

Fewer than 60,000 units seperated the three platforms by the end of the year.

In terms of accessories, 9.22 million of controllers, cases and headphones were sold in the UK last year, which is a drop of 13% over the year before. The DualSense White Controller was the best-selling accessory, followed by the Midnight Black version. The best-selling third-party accessory was Turtle Beach's Ear Force Recon 50X Headset (Black) for Xbox, which was the fourth best-selling add-on product.

*Digital Data Unavailable

GSD 2022 Best-Selling Video Games (Digital + Physical)

Position Title
1 FIFA 23 (EA)
2 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision Blizzard)
3 LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Warner Bros)
4 Elden Ring (Bandai Namco)
5 Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rockstar)
6 God of War Ragnarok (Sony)
7 FIFA 22 (EA)
8 Horizon: Forbidden West (Sony)
9 Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar)
10 Nintendo Switch Sports (Nintendo)*
11 Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Nintendo)*
12 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe (Nintendo)*
13 Gran Turismo 7 (Sony)
14 Pokémon Violet (Nintendo)*
15 WWE 2K22 (2K Games)
16 F1 22 (EA)
17 Pokémon Scarlet (Nintendo)*
18 Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition (Nintendo/Mojang)*
19 Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo)*
20 Sonic Frontiers (Sega)

*Digital Data Unavailable

GSD 2022 Best-Selling Video Games (Digital Only)

Position Title
1 FIFA 23 (EA)
2 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision Blizzard)
3 Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rockstar)
4 Elden Ring (Bandai Namco)
5 LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Warner Bros)
6 FIFA 22 (EA)
7 Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar)
8 God of War: Ragnarok (Sony)
9 F1 22 (EA)
10 WWE 2K22 (2K Games)

GSD 2022 Best-Selling Video Games (Physical Only)

Position Title
1 FIFA 23 (EA)
2 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision Blizzard)
3 LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Warner Bros)
4 Nintendo Switch Sports (Nintendo)
5 Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Nintendo)
6 God of War Ragnarok (Sony)
7 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe (Nintendo)
8 Pokémon Violet (Nintendo)
9 Horizon: Forbidden West (Sony)
10 Elden Ring (Bandai Namco)

GSD digital data includes games from participating companies sold via Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Nintendo Eshop. Major participating companies are Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Codemasters, Electronic Arts, Embracer Group (including Gearbox, Koch Media, Sabre Interactive), Focus Entertainment, Konami, Marvellous Games, Microids, Microsoft (including Bethesda), Milestone, Nacon, Paradox Interactive, Quantic Dream, Sega, Sony, Square Enix, Take-Two, Ubisoft and Warner Bros. Nintendo and 505 Games are the notable absentees, alongside smaller studios.

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