German games biz falls 3% in 2009

Consumers spent $3.35 bil on games, console hardware

COLOGNE, Germany -- Germany's video game market didn't escape last year's economic downturn unscathed but, as official figures released Wednesday show, the German games biz proved more resilient than many had expected.

German consumers spent €2.47 billion ($3.35 billion) on games and console hardware last year, a 3% drop from 2008, the German Association of Interactive Software reported. The figures do not include revenue from software sold online or from browser games.

Games sales accounted for €1.53 billion ($2.08 billion) in revenues, while hardware or console sales generated €932 million ($1.26 billion).

While unit sales stayed fairly steady -- 55.4 million games were sold in Germany last year, compared with 55.6 million in 2008 -- discounting, particularly with PC games, cut into distributors' profit margins.

One clear trend is a move away from PC games to consoles of the PlayStattion 3, Wii and X Box 360 variety. Revenue on sales of PC games sank 11% to €388 million ($526 million) while console game sales jumped 15% last year to €855 million ($1.16 billion).

Even harder hit than the PC software business were handheld games for PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS systems, where German revenues fell 24% to €292 million ($396 million).