Nintendo gives retail sales a Wii hand

Sales of Nintendo's Wii console have left video game retailers smiling.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Video game sales are the latest sector, after the likes of fast food and supermarkets, to benefit from the stay at home effect of the downturn, and show that the economic climate doesn't necessarily mean bad news for everyone. Revenues for video games rose 21% in 2008, according to the Entertainment Retailers' Association. Video games sales have helped retailers add 3.8% to sales volumes and 5.1% in value - even when major retailers like Woolworths and Zavvi were going under. 

Much of the credit has to go to Nintendo, whose Wii and DS consoles have been hugely successful: the Japanese manufacturer said it sold nearly three million Wii consoles during 2008 in the UK alone. New releases for the two platforms accounted for more than half of the games software market that year.

Video game sales are in fact so strong that they may well outstrip music and DVD performance this year. This would be quite a landmark. We remember when video games were the preserve of (largely geeky) teenage boys, who'd crowd round monochrome screens in each other's bedrooms for afternoons of Horace Goes Skiing, moving a little green man across a 2D road to avoid getting squashed by a badly drawn truck.

These days, however, fitness and brain training games won over women and older people to the traditionally niche market. Meanwhile DVD and music sales are slowing. The ERA says the games software market needs to grow only 10% to overtake video - which it reckons could happen in the next six months. It makes sense - when you've watched a DVD once, that will probably be it for a while; whereas buying a new video game could sort out your non-social life for a few months.

When people are perhaps looking for cheaper ways to entertain themselves, there's probably a lot worse than leaping about with your family to a game of virtual tennis, in your Primark dressing gown. Just go easy on the fast food.  

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