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UK physical games sales dropped 13.4% in 2016

PS4 and 3DS game sales rise, every other platform falls

The UK games market in 2016 failed to recover as the year came to a close.

According to the latest GfK figures, the number of boxed games sold in 2016 in the UK was down by 13.4% in units and 13.8% in value. 23.7m games were sold in the year, generating £776m.

The disappointing results was down to plummeting 360 and PS3 software sales, plus the big games of 2016 failing to match their 2015 counterparts.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was the top selling game of December and is the second best-selling game of 2016. It has also recovered a little since its disappointing launch. However, it remains 31.5% down compared with the previous year's Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

Bethesda launched Fallout 4 in November 2015, which went on to sell over 1m units. Last November it released Dishonored 2, which failed to make a major dent on the charts.

Ubisoft's 2015 Christmas hit was Assassin's Creed Syndicate, which sold almost half a million units during that year. 2016's big release, Watch Dogs 2, is still a little off from that target (although Syndicate launched four weeks earlier in its year).

Sticking with Ubisoft, its December title Steep had a slower start to life than 2015's Rainbow Six: Siege. Meanwhile, Microsoft's big Q4 game of last year, Gears of War 4, was no match for 2015's Halo 5.

Square Enix enjoyed decent sales for Final Fantasy XV last year, but it doesn't compare well when put against its big Christmas game of 2015 - Just Cause 3 (although that game had an extra week on sale).

So overall, the triple-A games of Christmas 2016 performed poorly in comparison to the major launches the year before. There are some exceptions, of course. FIFA 17 is matching the sales of FIFA 16, while Battlefield 1 has shifted over 1m units so far in the UK (although last year's Star Wars Battlefront managed a similar feat in a shorter space of time).

Outside of the big releases, the other major reason for the drop in software sales was down to a collapse in 360 and PS3 boxed games. Over 3m Xbox 360 boxed games and almost 2m PS3 titles were sold in 2015, but those numbers have plummeted by more than half for both platforms in 2016.

PS4 and Xbox One software sales were far more robust, but didn't grow significantly. PS4 and 3DS were the only two consoles that sold more games in 2016 than 2015.

Full breakdown on the top selling games and hardware is expected later in the week. The final weekly GfK chart of 2016 saw Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare notching up its fourth consecutive No.1, with FIFA 17 and Battlefield 1 keeping pace at No.2 and No.3 respectively.

Uncharted 4 rises 58% in sales and climbs 18 places due to some discounting on both the standalone game and a PS4 bundle that featured the title.

Last Week This Week Title
1 1 Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
2 2 FIFA 17
3 3 Battlefield 1
5 4 Grand Theft Auto V
4 5 Watch Dogs 2
6 6 Mafia III
12 7 Rocket League
26 8 Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
7 9 Steep
9 10 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
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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