The UK retail games market is experiencing an ongoing fall in sales. With Red Dead Redemption 2 due out this week retailers are looking to recoup sales with the most-anticipated release of 2018.
Even though triple A titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey have launched earlier than usual this year UK boxed game sales are down by 6.2 percent year-on-year. Black Ops 4 was specifically brought forward in order to avoid launching too close to Red Dead Redemption 2, a move that Activision hoped would avoid competition for sales.
However, earlier release dates failed to secure more sales for these titles and the latest iteration of FIFA, with each of these games selling less physical units that the titles preceding them.
While growing digital sales, and an increasing preference for consumers to purchase their games from digital marketplaces, will be a contributing factor, it doesn’t cover the total calculated deficit.
This week there have been four new entries to the UK top 40 physical game sales chart. The first is LEGO DC Super-Villains, which has debuted in 6th place in the chart. This is lower than the last LEGO game release, The Incredibles, which launched in July. A lower rate of initial sales is expected for games aimed at younger audiences, as they tend to produce sustained sales for a longer period of time, compared to triple A games causing a sales spike which dramatically falls away after the first week.
Even so , LEGO game sales have been slipping alongside the rest of the retail market. Generally the IP the LEGO game makes use of determines how popular it is, but in 2017 the most popular LEGO title was LEGO World, which only uses the unique LEGO IP.
Soul Calibur 6 debuted in the chart in 8th position. Compared to Soul Calibur 5 launch sales are down by 55 percent, although Soul Calibur 5 launched in 2012 when the digital sales market was far smaller than it is today.
Ubisoft’s new IP, Starlink: Battle For Atlas, also launched this week. The game debuted in 14th place in the chart, but with a younger target audience this isn’t that surprising. Sales of Starlink will most likely be primarily physical, since the game relies heavily on physical toy components for use in-game much like Skylanders. 82 percent of Starlink’s sales were for Nintendo Switch, with 10 percent for Playstation 4, and 9 percent for Xbox One, showing a clear preference in platform. The addition of Nintendo characters from the Star Fox universe is the core driver behind this sales division.
Lugi’s Mansion saw a remastered launch this week for Nintendo 3DS, but with the platform soon to be replaced entirely by the Switch, the game only made it to 23rd place in the chart.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 continues to underperform, though the week 2 sales drop off has only been 39 percent. This is good for a triple A title, but overall the game is still selling under its predecessors. Even so it remains in the top position in the chart.
FIFA 19 is sticking in second place in the chart with a 39 percent sales drop week-on-week, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey follows in third with sales down by 50 percent week-on-week. Spider-Man has risen by two places to fourth this week, beating Forza Horizon 4 which remains in fifth.
Next week we will see the impact that Red Dead Redemption 2 has on the retail market. The previous game from Rockstar, Grand Theft Auto 5, released in 2013 and sold over 2 million units in the first week on sale. Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t expected to perform as well as Grand Theft Auto 5, but consumers may surprise us yet.
A more extended list of top sellers can be found here.