Dazcooke Presents…”Does Everyone In The UK Own FIFA 13?” – An Analysis Of UK Game Sales Charts September 2012 – March 2013

Each week for the radio show that I co-host (click ‘Radio Show Archives’ at the top of the page for more information), I have to do a quick bit of research and find what the best selling game in the UK is for that particular week. And while I was checking today’s data, I noticed something very strange.

FIFA 13 was number five on the charts.

Now, to the casual eye this doesn’t mean much at all; but to someone like me who keeps a watchful eye on the charts, it is quite noticeable because this is the first week since its release that FIFA 13 has ranked lower than 4th place. This small statistic made me query this morning the extent to which the sales charts have changed since FIFA’s release at the end of September 2012, and so I decided to have a quick check of the archives of sales charts since September to see if there are any trends.

Below is a spreadsheet containing information of where games that have peaked at Number One in the UK Game Sales Charts have placed in the Top 40 since 29th September 2012. (Data taken from GFK Chart Track ‘Top 40 Entertainment Software (All Prices)’ http://www.chart-track.co.uk/index.jsp)

All Data Taken From GFK Charts
All Data Taken From GFK Charts (click to enlarge)

When all of this is averaged out, we get the following results:

Tomb Raider at the top...but for how long? (Click to enlarge)
Tomb Raider at the top…but for how long? (Click to enlarge)

So, what does this all mean?

Contrary to popular belief on the Internet, UK consumers not tiring of the yearly installments of FIFA and Call Of Duty – over the past 24 weeks, FIFA 13 and Black Ops II have held the top spot between them for 12 weeks, including 4 and 6 weeks bursts at the top of the summit respectively. It’s not just their popularity that stands out though, but rather it’s the fact that they average so highly for each week during this period. Unlike the games that have been Number One recently and faded away (DmC, Ni No Kuni, Dead Space 3), these two titles have been consistently within the top five games sold. You have to wonder what people there are left to sell to that haven’t already bought a copy. For all the talk of innovation, the celebration of independent titles and wanting to move forward to the next generation, the games industry seems caught in a paradox where tried and tested formulas are still proving the most popular.

There are other trends to consider within this data as well:

  • First off, despite a consistent showing for FIFA and Call Of Duty each week, new titles continue to be picked up quickly and initially in large amounts – with the notable exception of Far Cry 3, each game listed debuted at Number One in the week they were released.
  • Timing is everything, and here Aliens: Colonial Marines stands out as a prime example. Despite being bashed by the media, it was released in a relatively unchallenged launch window and has reaped the rewards as a result.
  • People actually bought Ni No Kuni; one of the most niche titles I can remember hitting the top spot for years. It is one of only two console exclusives to reach Number One in the past five months, the other being Halo 4 – the market remains a third party monopoly.
  • On the publishing front, EA are still quite popular in the UK. With four titles hitting the top spot, they remain ahead of Ubisoft as the most prolific publisher.
  • Perhaps surprisingly considering the spike in exclusive software sales that normally accompany new hardware, Nintendo didn’t have a single Number One in the past five months. UK consumers aren’t biting for the Wii U it seems.
  • Finally, based on the above data, the standout surprise performer in the UK over the past 5 months has been Far Cry 3. It displaced Black Ops II from the top at the end of 2012, and has been consistently higher in the charts than Ubisoft’s other big title, Assassins Creed III. If you are one of the people that haven’t bought it, I would highly recommend it.

If I’m honest, this entire study is relatively meaningless – without the accurate sales figures for each week it is difficult to correctly dictate what happened in the charts each week, and by missing out data on other games that sold consistently during this period but didn’t make the Number One spot (including Hitman Absolution, Need For Speed: Most Wanted and Skylanders Giants) we lose the general shape and flow of the chart – in short it’s a study that any proper game journalist can rip to shreds. Still, I hope you have found the results to be an interesting read, and I would very much like to hear what you think of the trends – leave a comment below.