This Just In: Britons Buy Many Games

So supposedly the UK market will become the second largest in the world behind the US in 2009, overtaking Japan. That’s the maths from trade journal MCV. Assuming things follow last year’s trends (which seem like a fairly big assumption right now) the UK will grasp a video games market value of £4.77bn, rather more than our Japanese brothers-in-games.

But that’s not all the news that MCV have, they’ve also got a huge global analysis of the games market, right here. Needless to say, the Americans come out on top with £14.89 billion. That’s enough boxed games to crush a small country like, say, France.


  1. James G says:

    If I’m not mistaken though, those are the gross numbers, putting us ahead of the US in terms of ‘per head’ sales.

  2. AbyssUK says:

    Americans will always be more gross… lol… seriously am here all week.

  3. Ian says:

    “That’s enough boxed games to crush a small country like, say, France.”


    I jest, of course.

  4. Steve says:

    I buy all my games from UK websites, since England is having a big sale on…. i.e the recession.

    Its great every thing is priced in Sterling, im getting a great deal for my Euro’s :)

  5. Bobsy says:

    Overtaking Japan? Wow, that’s pretty special, considering they have such a culture-focussed market over there. And a good 50% of the development industry*. And this is in videogames in general, not just PC, you say? Crikey.

    Question is though (sigh) does this include digital distribution?

    *statistics made up.

  6. Dan Harris says:


    That is all.

  7. bansama says:

    I’m not surprised the UK market has over taken us. Considering that games are cheaper in the UK compared to here and that retailers lower the price further once a game is no longer consider new. Whereas shops here will stick to the RRP price even when a game is 3 years old. And who wants to pay near 7000 yen (approx £55) for a 3 year old game?

    As for digital distribution, Japan pretty much doesn’t have any meaningful DD services (all we have is the PS store, Xbox LIVE (360 only, no PC), and Wii/Nintendo shopping channels). The likes of Steam, Metaboli and so forth are far from mainstream here and there is no Japanese counterpart.

    Then consider that there is basically no PC market anyhow (outside of Tokyo, try finding a shop that stocks more than about 20 PC games). It’s easy to see the UK can easily surpass this market when it has more systems over which games are sold.

    On a personal level, I prefer to buy my console games from the US and ship them over to Japan. It’s cheaper, even with postage and packing. And for the PC, it’s DD all the way.

  8. patricij says:

    Yeah, I remember when I was living in Toyama City back in 1997 – you could get a Game Boy/Playstation game nearly anywhere, but PC games where nearly nowhere to be found. Game Boy games cost around 3k yen , less for used/without the box.

  9. Gap Gen says:

    bansama: Yes, looking at the sales figures for the UK and Japan, Japan’s figures are the same for the Wii but far lower for everything else, suggesting that Japanese games cost far more on average.

  10. Gpig says:

    Damn I didn’t see this coming. Japan has so much heft in the industry that I always assumed it sold metric shitloads, and aside from rockpapershotgun and introversion, I didn’t know anything good came out of England videogame related.
    It’s really weird actually; England appears to be doing nothing but consuming games. Japan and northern europe (Tale of Tales, Jessie Venbrux, Nifflas, etc.) somehow have thriving indie devs despite in Japan’s case not having a pc scene or any type of pc community and in northern europe’s case they somehow have slightly more indie developers than they have people. Apparently one of the Grand Prize finalists for this years IGF (Dyson) is from England so it’s not completely one sided in the indie scene, but it’s still really surprising now that England is #2 in consumption.

    As for normal game development, is there any company besides Rare?

  11. Dan Harris says:

    From Datascope recruitment, a ‘Comprehensive list of games developers and publishers (mainly UK-based)’:

    link to

    Some of these are the UK branches of larger companies, but there’s still plenty.

  12. Gpig says:


  13. Heliocentric says:

    I buy all my games from UK websites, since England is having a big sale on…. i.e the recession.

    Its great every thing is priced in Sterling, im getting a great deal for my Euro’s :)thats how the economy balances out, welcome to world trade.

    aside from rockpapershotgun and introversion, I didn’t know anything good popular came out of England videogame related.Not england, Brit, thus! GTA4.

  14. Heliocentric says:

    I should only posdt while logged in, lack of edit makes for monsterous doppleganger posts. Sorry to the quoted members.

  15. Pidesco says:

    I’d like to remind people that the pound is worth a lot less now than it was in 2007, which means that these numbers are a lot more impressive.

    Also, I’d have to guess that one of the reasons UK sales numbers are so high is that the more favourable exchange rate attracts continental gamers. Perhaps the industry would have something to win if it lowered retail game prices.

  16. wiper says:

    “That’s enough boxed games to crush a small country like, say, France.” – Britain, surely?

    Actually, I’m not massively impressed by that MCV article – lines like “It may surprise some that the Japanese market continues to be worth more than the UK market. Why this should surprise is hard to say” just reek of wordcount bumping; is the author really under the impression that anybody would expect the Japanese market to be worth less than the UK one? Indeed, that’s the biggest shock conclusion of the article, that the UK may actually overtake the Japanese market.

    But that’s just the body, the actual figures are fairly interesting. It’s just a little sad that the ‘Global Market Analysis’ doesn’t mention, even in passing, any other countries. It would be interesting to see how far ahead of the pack these three countries are, and what other countries ignored the financial problems of the past year(s) and expanded their markets. And, finally, there’s no mention of PC games at all. Are they even including them in their financial figures?

    So, for me at least, an article that mostly frustrates. More data required!

  17. Tei says:

    It seems you guys britons have a special care for the “videogame industry”, and the users are of a special type, care more about quality and price. And this show on the prices. Is not just the Sterling, because the strong britain culture about gamming, games are cheaper on your islands.
    And this is a good thing. I would love other countrys develo p more his videogame culture, so maybe “sod games” are ignored, maybe prices can go down, and other interesting stuff.

    I guest all this roots on britain pionering the gamming industry on the 80’s and how the society has notice that, and support his people.

    Here on spain, the 80’s videogame industry was ignored (to this day, the whole videogames culture is ignored) .. both by users and society. A videogame can move much more money and people than the last film, but the radio and TV will broadcast about the movie.

    On other news… I have no hope for humanitys, and I think some games like “Sims”, the last “movie to game adaptation” , the last “console to pc adaptation” will still sell well worldwide. This show that most gamers that buy games don’t have a developed taste to avoid crap. Unfortunally this thing is even worse on my country. But has I say.. Is bad everywhere.

  18. StalinsGhost says:

    We buy many, yet the government seems to be failing on a regular basis to recognise the viability of games development in this country. Given some *proper* university degrees and government grants to new developers I think we have all the potential in the world to get more and more great developers working from British offices.

    I hope beyond all hopes that Gordie B (or even his conservative counterpart when he inevitably gains office) sees our nice little figure for what it is – one of the few industries going strong (despite some highly publicised lay-offs) in a time when industries are going to the dogs.

    It’s a money maker. Time someone recognised that in parliament. Letter writing campaign anyone? :D

  19. Heliocentric says:

    Yeah, provide the references ffs.

    How is china doing suppressing piracy? What about the massively over charged austrailians who will be fleeing to digital distribution. South Korea’s starcraft sales must count for something. With real statistics we could apply a per head equation. Average British resident spends £10 a year on games” in 1998 but “£60 in the 2008”, thus by the queens currency the worth of gaming has accelerated to 600% in the british isle

    *example statistics pulled out of my arse (just like all good statistics)

    Thats analysis. Bleh,

  20. Jonas says:

    It’s a shame that “suck up to the Americans” continues to be a viable strategy. Not that I have that much against the US at all (they practically invented the medium in the first place), but I sincerely doubt it’s a coincidence that the formerly globe-trotting Hitman series has confined its latest installation exclusively to the US of A.

    Ah well. Better than sucking up to Asia!

  21. Gap Gen says:

    “We buy many, yet the government seems to be failing on a regular basis to recognise the viability of games development in this country.”

    Yes, Gordon Brown seems to be more interested in beating the game industry for cheap kicks from ignorant technophobes rather than supporting it.

  22. phil says:

    The way the economy is headed, short-term our consumption will go up thanks to more causals trading down from nights out and DVDs (there’s the perception games give more bang for your buck), combined with more causals downloading apps for mobiles and other platforms (something the UK actually seems pretty good at making as well as consuming).

    Medium term, our economy currently lacks the capacity to employ a large porportion of our working population, the liquidity crisis has hit us harder than any other front rank economy and will continue to nail down consumer spending, our currency will shortly become the euro and we’ve a significant aging population that seem to be immune to even the Wii’s charms – I’d say Japan’s position was safe.

    Long-term – We’ll all be dead (a little joke for all you Keynesians out there.)

  23. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @Steve nice to see someone using UK and England Synonymously, if only it were true ;)

  24. Ginger Yellow says:

    What’s striking to me is how small the US market is, comparatively. US GDP is more than 6 times UK GDP and the population is about 5 times. Yet the game market is only 3 times the size, despite the collapse of sterling.

  25. Dan Harris says:

    @ Wiper:

    Agree with you on the disappointing lack of other countries, especially having read Jim’s article on Russia, where consumption is so high that they measure the amount of software sold in tonnes.

  26. Dan Harris says:

    Apologies for double post, but having rechecked the article, it’s a single company (1C) shipping 0.98 * 13 tonnes of games a day.

    That’s a lot of boxes.

  27. Heliocentric says:

    Think there are any games in them?

  28. Markoff Chaney says:

    Don’t suck up to us. We are a perversion of everything we were founded to be. An international disgrace. Rampant consumerism is sickening and disregard of others combined with an inability to accept others as they are just makes us worse. (Note – Feel free to apply this to any nation state you desire. Most around the world are applicable. I’d leave, but we don’t have off planet colonies yet…)

    At least games are an international language. I love playing with (or virtually killing) people from all countries, even if a pond separates us. Electrons continue to bring us closer together, despite our physical separation.

    Really, I just wanted an excuse to quote more Fugazi

    Merchandise keeps us in line
    Common sense says it’s by design

  29. Orange says:

    Good to see the demand is huge, hopefully that will translate to some more political clout for the industry. Fed up of muppets like Keith Vaz being the only voices on gaming in the commons,.

  30. TheDude says:

    Nice to see the gold coins in the image. If any of you haven’t got gold or silver I fear for you. – look at the historical charts, look at inflation. We’re going into an economic depression!
    Buy gold, buy food. The banks engineered it.