Vid games take greater slice of Spanish pie

But piracy still damaging all entertainment sectors

MADRID -- As boxoffice sales drop and illegal downloads soar, the movie industry in Spain is facing yet another challenge -- the booming video game market.

The video game sector saw its slice of the home entertainment pie grow in 2008, according to figures released this week by the Spanish Association of Entertainment Software Distributors and Editors, or Adese.

Sales of video games and consoles accounted for €1.43 billion ($1.9 billion) in Spain in 2008, 57% of home entertainment spending. In 2007, video games represented 53% of home entertainment spending. DVD sales clocked in at €245 million ($332 million) in 2008, while boxoffice sales dropped to €619 million ($839 million) from €644 million in 2007. Music sales earned just €212 million ($287 million), or 8% of the pie.

Despite the gains in market share, video games saw their overall sales dip 1.5% from the €1.45 billion ($2 billion) in 2007 -- something Adese spokesman Carlos Iglesias attributed to the global economic crisis and rampant pirating in Spain. The report alleges about 28 million illegal downloads in 2008.

"The key to understanding what's going on is pirating," Iglesias said. "Music, movies and video games are being used more than ever before, just in a different way."

According to Adese, there are some 3,200 games available for illegal download, despite the traditional deterrents of downloading video games, namely heavy files and filters.

"If we don't want the same to happen to us as did the music companies, which are on their way into extinction, we'll have to take steps now," Iglesias said.

Nintendo's Wii Play was the top-selling game.