51.2 million units of games hardware and software were sold during the twelve months, 21% up on the previous year. And the upward trend is set to continue this year with launches of two new consoles, the Game Cube from Nintendo and the Xbox from Microsoft.
During 2001, nine top selling games achieved ELSPA's highest level Platinum Volume Sales Award for sales over 300,000 units, they were: WWF Smackdown published by THQ; Who Wants to be a Millionaire by Eidos; The Sims by EA Games; Driver 2 by Infogrames; Tomb Raider 4 by Eidos; Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 by Activision; Grand Theft Auto 3 by Take 2; Gran Turismo 3 by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and, of course, Harry Potter - The Philosopher 's Stone by EA, which went Platinum in just five weeks, the fastest seller of the year.
New Consoles Boost the Market
The biggest growth area last year was in sales of console hardware and software boosted by the launches of the new PS2 and Gameboy Advance consoles. The total value of console hardware sales increased by an incredible 121% on the previous year, reaching an all time high of £567 million on the back of 4 million consoles sold during the year. The boom in consoles inevitably fed through to software sales with a record 30.5 million units of console software sold (up 26% on last year) worth £711 million.
The market for home computer software also fared better than the previous year with the volume of units sold up by 10% to 16.7 million whilst the value of sales remained static at £346 million.
Commenting on these figures, Roger Bennett, Director General ELSPA said:
"The leisure software industry has just seen it's most successful Christmas ever, boosted by the launch of new consoles and fantastic games to go with them. The dramatic upward trend in sales values confounds some analysts who thought that the market had reached the end of rapid growth. Instead, last year's performance confirms this as the most dynamic entertainment sector globally and one in which the UK is a major player both in terms of the public's voracity for the product and also the creativity of the software produced here.
"The peaks and troughs that used to be associated with the introduction of new games hardware are well and truly behind us. This year should be another great one as we see sales of PS2 hardware and software really take off, a new console launch from Nintendo and the first entry of the mighty Microsoft into the lucrative console market".
According to ELSPA, the UK leisure software market is the third largest country market in the world, after USA and Japan. In the UK, consumers now spend more on leisure software than on renting videos or cinema visits. In terms of exports, the picture is also rosy, with the value of UK exports of leisure software products exceeding both British film and TV.