Retail PC Game Sales – Still On Life Support

A while back, I posted here about the sharp decline in US PC retail game sales (using data that had mostly been helpfully collected and posted by Rob Merritt).

That was two years ago, so the topic deserved a revisit.

The good news is, sales aren’t falling as fast. The bad news is, they’re still falling, down about 4% (10% inflation adjusted) since that last post. Overall, as the graph below shows, in inflation adjusted terms, these sales are down about 61% from their peak in 1999.

US retail PC game sales 1994-2007
(See Graph Data and Sources below)

What’s a little more depressing is that the sales that are being made are almost entirely from old franchises. See these top ten lists for 2007 and 2006. Virtually every game on both lists is based on an old franchise. (I’m counting World of Warcraft as based on the old Warcraft franchise. For that matter, WoW itself is pretty old now. And there is a title “Star Wars: Empire at War that appears to be a non-sequel, but of course, it’s based on Star Wars.) Sims/SimCity titles make up 5 of the 10 entries on both lists.

In short, the US retail PC game market is much smaller than it once was, and not really open to breakthrough new (original) titles.

Even though I’m a developer, I’m probably characteristic of many gamers as well. I have only bought one or two new retail PC games in the last few years. I prefer downloadable casual titles or console titles.

I don’t read the print magazines about PC gaming anymore. Well, we’re down to only one such magazine anyways (PC Gamer is the only one left, I think).

Perhaps I’ll write a longer post in the future about *why* (in my opinion) this decline occurred. Perhaps I’ll also gather data on some more promising areas (casual games, console games, MMORPGs, etc.)

Graph Data and Sources
Data:
Year/Raw Sales/Inflation Adjusted Sales
1994    $966  $1,352
1995  $1,400  $1,905
1996  $1,700  $2,247
1997  $1,800  $2,325
1998  $1,800  $2,290
1999  $1,900  $2,365
2000  $1,600  $1,927
2001  $1,750  $2,049
2002  $1,400  $1,614
2003  $1,200  $1,352
2004  $1,080  $1,185
2005    $953  $1,012
2006    $970    $998
2007    $911    $911

Sources:
2007 data
2006 data
My old post on this topic, with older sources.
My old post was, in turn, largely based on data and sources collected by Rob Merritt, at this link.
CPI data, used for inflation adjustments

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