In the UK, spending on the leisure software market in 2002 was double the size of the British video rental market and 1.4 times more than cinema box office spending. Games hardware sales in 2002 were also up 44 per cent, accounting for 3.3 million units in the period.
Roger Bennett, director general of ELSPA, said: "These figures clearly demonstrate the commercial strength of an industry rich in creativity and entertainment value. More games are being purchased by more people all over the world and it is heartening to acknowledge the contribution made by UK-based development houses to that success. In particular, companies such as Rockstar North who developed the phenomenally successful GTA: Vice City which sold over one million units in the UK alone in the eight weeks leading up to Christmas."
Ben Keen, research director of Screen Digest, commented: "The current technology cycle of the games market is playing out at an accelerated rate compared to previous market phases. In addition, more games are being sold for every console purchased. This means that hit titles will sell in ever greater numbers."
The UK continues to be the largest market in Europe and the third largest market in the world, after the US and Japan. Total UK leisure software sales grew again in 2002 to reach £1,081m (EUR1,612m) - the highest value ever reached. Since 1995, more than 215m units of leisure software have been sold in the UK. That is enough for every household in Britain to own almost nine titles each. Across Europe, a staggering 900m-plus games or edutainment CD-ROMs will have been sold over those eight years. Across the world, the total number of leisure software units sold since 1995 is nearly 3 billion.
According to the new report, the world market for games and edutainment/reference software will grow to $18.5bn this year, up from $16.9bn in 2002. Since 1995, the global leisure software market has almost tripled in value, and there are few - if any - other media markets that can show comparable growth.
In terms of hardware sales in 2002, PlayStation 2 sold 6.3m in Western Europe, according to Screen Digest estimates. On a global level, Screen Digest estimates that Sony had sold more than 40m PlayStation 2 machines by the end of 2002, giving Sony 74 per cent share of the current 128-bit console market, ahead of Nintendo's 14 per cent and Microsoft's 12 per cent.
Looking ahead, Screen Digest predicts that 2003 will be another record year for games hardware and software sales. Globally, a staggering 32m new PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube consoles will be sold, up from a little over 30m in 2002. On the back of this hardware growth, 548m pieces of leisure software will be purchased - up from 508m in 2002.