Video game retailers remain optimistic despite ‘awful market’

The video games market was dealt a heavy blow during the Christmas season, prompting Ian Shepherd, Game Group’s chief executive, to describe it as “just awful.”<--break->“></p>

<p> Sales across the market fell by almost 19 per cent in the eight weeks to January 7; a decline which also had a direct effect on Kingston’s major video game retailers. Despite the downfall, however, retailers remained optimistic.</p>

<p> An HMV spokesperson said: “The UK games market was down generally in 2011 compared to recent years. This trend was also reflected at HMV’s Kingston upon Thames branch, although the store did trade ahead of the company’s average.”</p>

<p> “With next month’s launch of Sony’s new PS Vita handheld console, the rumoured return of the GTA franchise and towards the end of the year the Nintendo Wii U, we’re hopeful 2012 will see an improvement in the UK games market,” the spokesperson added.</p>

<p> Simon Soffe, investor relations and group communications director of the Game Group, also tried to give a silver lining to the falling sales figures. “The video game market in general declined by almost 19 per cent, but sales in our UK stores fell by less than that,” Mr Soffe said.</p>

<p> The Game Group released its Christmas 2012 trading statement earlier this month, revealing that total sales in UK and Ireland fell by 18 per cent in the eight weeks to January 7, while like-for-like sales declined by 15 per cent. The group’s share price dropped from 20p on November 14 to just 5p on January 23.</p>

<p> The HMV Group also suffered a significant decline, as total sales fell by 17 per cent and like-for-like sales fell by 8 per cent in the five weeks to December 31. The price of HMV’s share experienced a steady decline during November and December, reaching the all-time low of 2.25p in late January.</p>

<p> Both the HMV spokesperson and Mr Shepherd attributed the decline partly in the lack of new console products.</p>

<p> However, consumers feel that it is mainly the high cost of gaming and the tough economic climate that steer them away from the market. Liam, 28, was checking the new releases at Kingston’s Game store: “It is the price and not the quality of games that concerns me. After all, games keep getting better and better each year. For example, titles like Call of Duty or FIFA are released each year and you can see they are improved.”</p>

<p> “I am looking forward to new consoles, but I am not going to buy any of them immediately, as I still have the PSP,” Liam added.</p>

<p> Paul Ballis, 39, has been an avid gamer for nearly 20 years. However, he revealed that he had no choice but to cut down on his video game budget this Christmas: “I am a low-income earner, so I don’t have a lot of money to spend – not as much as I want to.”</p>

<p> “I am looking forward to the new consoles, but I tend to buy them much later on; maybe a year or two afterwards. By then, consoles are cheaper, there are more titles available and most ‘bugs’ have been rectified.”</p>

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