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Console Sales Plunge As App Gaming Takes Off

(c) Sky News 2013

Video game console sales fell by a third in the UK in 2012, according to the latest industry figures.

Overall sales were down 33.1% from the previous year, with purchases of home consoles, such as the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, falling by 34.1%.

Handheld consoles fell by 31.3%, despite the introduction of new products such as the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo's 3DS XL.

The figures from the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE), a trade body, and research company GfK Chart-Track are based on a panel of more than 30 online and High Street retailers, including Game, Blockbuster, Amazon, Play and the major supermarkets.

However, UKIE said the figures needed to be seen in the context of the wider gaming market.

It said the growth in app downloads, where gaming is one of the most popular areas, showed the sector was still in good health.

The figures might also be part of a natural dip in sales, it said, as gamers wait for the next generation of consoles, which are expected over the next year or so.

"The fact that traditional console sales are down this year only tells part of the story," said UKIE boss Dr Jo Twist.

"This comes at a time when the main established consoles are nearing the end of their lifecycles.

"We are actually seeing more and more people playing games on ever more devices such as phones and tablets, as well as traditional dedicated games consoles.

"This is an exciting time for the games industry and games players."

The figures showed the Xbox 360 is the UK's best-selling console with 29% of total sales, while the PlayStation 3 has 23% of the market.

Earlier this week, separate figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association painted a positive picture of the games industry, with UK digital sales topping £552m in 2012.

That figure was mainly generated by massive multiplayer online games, social gaming and online console transactions.

It also represents more than digital sales of music and video combined.