The number of games consoles in the UK has doubled in the past year, spelling a rosy future for the Midlands’ burgeoning computer game sector.
According to new figures from high street retail chain The Game Group, the installed base of consoles in the UK has doubled from 8.8 million in September 2007 to 17.3 million in September 2008 and by the end of the year the figures are estimated to rise to 21 million.
The Entertainment Leisure & Software Publishers’ Association (ELSPA) said the massive growth was further evidence that the British games industry is now the most important in the UK’s creative industries sector.
ELSPA managing director Michael Rawlinson said: “There can be little doubt that video games are now one of the major forms of entertainment in the UK.
“Not only that, our industry is proving to be remarkably robust in the credit crunch.
“The reason is very simple – games can offer terrific value for money.
“I appreciate that it is only violent or controversial games that tend to garner tabloid headlines but the truth is that the overwhelming majority of games sold in this country are for all players of all ages – and that is why the Wii with games such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit are proving to be amongst the nation’s enduring favourites.”
While Sony and Microsoft have added a million installed users in the last 12 months, Nintendo has been the biggest winner with an increase of some 2.5 million Wii consoles and 3.3 million DS handhelds.
The Midlands is home to a thriving computer games industry which includes big names such as Codemasters, Freestyle Games and Blitz, all based in or near Leamington Spa.
A spokesman from Codemasters said: “In general, the games industry has never been in a more healthy shape – games are reaching more people than ever before, becoming more mainstream and that’s been achieved through the increasing quality of games and, of course, platforms like the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS which have broadened the appeal of games beyond core users.
“PC gaming is growing, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii consoles are all selling on an upward curve, gaming really has moved out of the bedroom and into the lounge.
“With the increasingly social nature of games, and unique experiences that make other media look tired, it’s never been a better time to play games, or be in this industry.”
Although the company is not complacent about the industry being “credit crunch-proof,” Codemasters believes gaming is one of the rare sectors which is well-equipped to weather the coming economic storm.
“Of course, on another level, gaming isn’t just a fun choice, but it’s a smart choice for the consumer - you can gain upwards of ten hours entertainment at the very least from each game, while online and multiplayer components extend the experience further, all for the price of a single ticket to a football match.
“And with platforms like the Wii, games are increasingly social with a broad appeal, so it’s a good value way to entertain all the family.”