Overall Sales in United States and United Kingdom Continue to Climb While Japan Experiences Decline

NEW YORK, TOKYO, LONDON, November 10, 2008 – According to recent findings from Top Global Markets, an integrated monthly report from leading providers of consumer and retail information in the video games industry, The NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track Limited and Enterbrain, Inc., combined video game software unit sales across the world’s three largest games markets experienced growth of 1 percent during third-quarter 2008 (July-September).

At 15 percent, the United Kingdom experienced the largest aggregate growth, followed by United States’ 8 percent, but growth in the UK is skewed, with console software experiencing a 26 percent gain, and portable software declining 1 percentage point. Growth in the United States was more evenly balanced, with console software growth of 6 percent and portable software growth of 10 percent.

“Taking into consideration the marked differences between the 3 territories, the UK market in particular is gearing up for a best-ever Q4 performance overall, even under the well-documented financial climate,” said Dorian Bloch, Business Group Director, GfK Chart-Track Limited.  “We fully expect UK consumers to drive sales for the full year to unprecedented heights, especially considering the line-up of exciting single and multi-format new franchises currently hitting the market, not to mention the evergreen portfolio of Nintendo-published Wii & DS titles which have done such a great job of expanding the market to a far more mainstream consumer.”

Of all the markets, only the United States experienced an increase in growth over third quarter 2007 (8 percent in Q3’08 vs. 5 percent in Q3’07). While the UK saw a third quarter 2008 increase of 15 percent, it experienced a 34 percent increase during the same time period last year.

“In the U.S., third quarter total industry unit sales grew 8 percent versus 2007, even as the economy showed accelerating signs of recession,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group.  “As would be expected at this point in the console lifecycle, games sales are starting to take the spotlight even as the average retail prices of games increased slightly.  Heading into the critical fourth quarter, the U.S. games industry is on solid ground.”

The flat performance of unit sales can largely be attributed to a weakening in the Japanese software market, which declined 21 percent from last year. The largest decline in Japan was experienced by console software, followed by portable software, with respective losses of 33 percent and 13 percent. These results are in sharp contrast to the 27 percent increase in total video game software sales generated in Japan in Q3’07.

“Japan did experience sales declines in both software categories, but it is important to keep in mind that not only is Japan a more mature market than the U.S. and UK, but 2007 was a banner year for the Japanese software market, with the titles released in the third quarter of 2008 not being as highly anticipated as those released during the same time period in 2007,” said Ricky K Tanimoto, Global Marketing Analyst, Enterbrain, Inc. “Also, software titles generally have stronger launch sales in Japan, which represent a large percentage of the total sales in Japan compared to the U.S. and UK. In regards to expectations for the remainder of the calendar year, we estimate overall video game sales in Japan this holiday season will not be greatly affected by the world financial crisis, especially in the portable space. Portable software sales are particularly strong, and new portable hardware systems like Sony’s PSP-3000 and Nintendo’s DSi will prove to be driving market forces in Japan throughout the 2008 holiday season.”

Third Quarter 2008* Top 5 Video Game Titles
Top Global Markets Report
Ranked By Units**
Rank Title Corporate
Total US UK Japan
1 MADDEN NFL 09 ELECTRONIC ARTS 2,994,000 2,958,000 35,000 1,000
2 WII FIT NINTENDO 2,089,000 1,283,000 460,000 346,000
3 STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED LUCASARTS 1,738,000 1,417,000 321,000 --
4 POKEMON PLATINUM NINTENDO 1,482,000 -- -- 1,482,000
5 MARIO KART WII NINTENDO 1,468,000 856,000 394,000 218,000

Source: Top Global Markets Report / Retail Tracking Service
*July - September 2008
**Unit sales figures rounded

Top Global Markets Report is an integrated monthly report from leading providers of consumer and retail information in the video games industry, The NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track Limited and Enterbrain, Inc.  It provides integrated point-of-sale data for video game software sales in the world’s largest games markets.

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