Electronic Arts has clinched the top spot this Christmas, fending off strong competition from all sides and defeating Rockstar?s drip-feed policy of San Andreas allocation at retail.
Again, EA?s Need for Speed Underground has proved irresistible to gamers in the UK, with it?s Gran Turismo-lite policy attracting massive support. Although the game is little more than a huge collection of other people?s ideas, the rekindled franchise, that had been all but forgotten by EA, has seen possibly the strongest brand renaissance in gaming history ? unarguably impressive.
San Andreas? lure is still evident, with the game remaining in the number two slot. Many observers have been impressed at the over-18 support the games industry can muster over such a sustained period, although sales dropped by around 10% in week-on-week comparisons.
Activision's attempt at repeating EA's feat last year with a yuletide FPS wargame nearly paid off as Call Of Duty: Finest Hour, released on all home consoles, manages a respectable third place in the chart with sales jumping 15%, no doubt thanks to an astute, if expensive marketing campaign.
The Incredibles, FIFA 2005, Prince of Persia 2 and Pro Evo 4 take slots four, five, six and seven respectively.
The all-important week 51 reveals the biggest sales week of the year so far with units climbing 12% overall to reach over 2.2 million. However, this is actually down 9.6% on this week last year (units) and over 13% down in value - translating into a shortfall through the ChartTrack panel of 242,000 units and £8.1m over last year week-on-week.
This shortfall is certainly due to massive console hardware shortages, particularly on the major formats PS2 and Xbox. Compared to week 51 last year, hardware units sales figures show PS2 is down by 23.5% with Xbox sales down by one half. GameCube is down 64%. However, Nintendo need not be downhearted as GBA SP hardware sales are up 22% compared to the same week last year.
Back to software, and platform market shares see PS2 climbing 16% over last week, totalling over 1.2m units and 53.1% of all software units. PC takes second with 21.6% of units (up 13%) followed by Xbox with 11.2% (up 1%). Gameboy Advance is fourth with 8.1% (down 1%) while poor relation Gamecube comes in last with 3.2% (up 11%). Software sales for the year so far are now up 6.7% (units) and 8.3% (value) compared with the same 51 weeks in 2003.