Poor Game Offerings See UK Sales Down 13.4% In 2016 Compared To 2015
(Last Updated On: January 3, 2017)

An unimpressive line-up of been-theres and done-thats is what defined 2016, if the GfK sales tracking is anything to go by. In the U.K., unit sales were down 13.4% compared to 2015 and revenue was down by 13.8% compared to the previous year.

Games Industry did a breakdown of the figures, comparing each of the big fall releases that they offered in 2015 compared to what they unleashed last year in 2016. They noted that the only game that seemed to do better than expected was EA and DICE’s Battlefield 1, which moved a million units in the U.K., last fall, just around the same amount as Star Wars: Battlefront from 2015.

The star of the article is Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, a real disaster story for 2016. The innovation of the game came in the form of space flight, but it was a little too little, too late when measured up against the more innovative offerings of Battlefield 1 and its World War I setting. Although, even then Battlefield 1 pales in comparison to the kind of features offered in the original Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 3 from years before.

Nevertheless, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare became the second best selling game of 2016, but only barely. It was also 31.5% down in total unit sales compared to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, which released in 2015.

The article further notes that Watch Dogs 2 failed to top Assassin’s Creed Syndicate‘s sales within the same period, even though it’s universally known that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was one of the worst selling mainline series launches in the company’s history. Then there’s Dishonored 2, which received a lot of positive press, but they mention that it didn’t quite top the charts as Fallout 4 did when it launched in November of 2015. According to Steam Spy, Dishonored 2 has moved more than 460,000 digital copies to date. It’s hard to pinpoint exacting numbers for the physical sales in the U.K., but it’s not hard to imagine it coming just under 1 million combining PC, PS4 and Xbox One sales.

Sports games like FIFA 17 actually did par the course of what FIFA 16 did in 2015, but Games Industry notes that it was the decline in Xbox 360 and PS3 sales that really hurt the industry. They note that the combined 5 million SKUs being sold physically in 2015 across the Xbox 360 and PS3 put a huge dent in the U.K.’s total physical sales, bringing the total of 2016’s gross revenue to only £776 million.

They also note that only the 3DS and PS4 were the two platforms that sold more units in 2016 than 2015.

This speaks volumes to 2016’s offerings, though. Software sells hardware, and there just wasn’t enough good software to compensate for seventh gen consoles finally retiring from the market.

This is becoming a bit of a repetitive story across more than just the U.K., though. Even on Steam when you look at the big sellers of the year and the games handed Steam Awards through user votes, the trend was basically showing that a lot of games not released in 2016 were the preferred titles.

They even revealed the final week of sales from GfK Tracking in the U.K., and you’ll see that a remastered version of a 2011 release, and two 2015 releases managed to make the top 10. Surprisingly, new IP like Overwatch were no where to be seen, and established brands like Gears of War 4 were completely absent.

Titanfall 2 was another tragedy struck with poor release timing. EA gambled on trying to cannibalize the FPS market and force sales away from Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and it only seemed to partially work, but only about as much as Clinton trying to blame the Russians for losing the Presidential election.

2017 is going to need to do a better job of releasing fun games that actually make people excited to buy and own titles, instead of trying to coast by on virtue-signal simulators and outrage culture-compliant software.

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • I am just guessing when I say this, but the next 3 to 5 years for the gaming industry are going to be bad with a continual decline in game sales.

    It’s trying to milk the consumer of the £60 games with bad business practises, like micro-transactions, season passes, DLC that was clearly cut content from the main game, pay-to-win, etc, etc.

    Add on top of the bad business practises, buggy and glitched out games that require launch day patches and a couple more months after release, with more games moving in the direction of becoming less fun with a focus on being SJW friendly. This has been brewing for quite awhile now.

    Hopefully this will shock the industry enough to reverse some of its anti-consumer practises, before a crash happens.

    • Some of us have been talking about a crash for a while now. You’re right about everything. I barely purchased any games in 2016… heck, I don’t even remember what I purchased in 2016, that’s how bad it’s gotten. You’re also likely right about the next three to four years.

      A lot of stuff that was in development at the height of SJWism in 2012 onward won’t be released until 2017 through 2020, and all that super-PC stuff likely won’t sit well with people who were already tired of it back in 2012.

      There is one silver-lining and it’s that some DLC practices are starting to subside, like free map packs and free character DLC for shooters. We’ve seen Overwatch, Titanfall 2 and a few other games adopt this practice. However, day-one DLC, day-one patches, months’ worth of bug fixing and SJWism is still a huge issue, not to mention Denuvo DRM for some PC users.

      • I didn’t even think about DRM. I am not that bothered by DRM, if it’s used as a way for guaranteeing sales for 6 months to a year after release. I have heard of the odd case where the developers/publishers have had the DRM removed after around a year after release, as they have already gotten the sales they wanted and met the sales figures.

        I think Inside (from the playdead) had/has Denuvo protection and it has been cracked within 6 weeks after release. I don’t think there will ever be a DRM system that doesn’t become cracked. It may take a short or long time to crack it, but I think someone will find a way to crack new DRM systems that are used.

  • Almost there.

  • >The star of the article is Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, a real disaster story for 2016.

    Really? Not No Man’s Sky?

    • No Man’s Sky launched awfully with a lot of missing features, but at least over time they’re turning it into a good game with some innovative stuff. Call of Duty is stuck as Call of Duty. It’ll never get better with time.

      • I doubt no man sky will ever be “good”.

  • Sevuz

    Very few games was worth playing in 2016 indeed. If most games weren’t bad they were broken at launch. Hell it took Deus Ex: MD 3 months to get fixed on PC.