Video games resist slump

Home sector down, but '08 console sales rise 11%

Home entertainment has suffered from the recession but not as badly as other business segments, and video game sales are a success story.

That's how Entertainment Merchants Assn. chief Crossan Andersen summed up 2008's disc business Monday.

"In a re cession of historic proportions, American business icons from banking to insurance to auto manufacturing were brought to their knees, with many companies requiring economic resuscitation from the government to survive," Anderson wrote in the group's annual report. "Consumers tightened their belts, and jobs were lost. Facing this economic tidal wave, our industry did remarkably well. Overall, however, consumers spent less money on other 'nonessentials,' from new clothing and electronics to restaurant meals and, yes, DVD. Meanwhile, the video game sector seemed impervious to all of this and experienced record-setting growth."

The report by the EMA, a nonprofit whose members are DVD and video game retailers, noted that video game console sales increased 11% last year.

As for movie and TV releases, the EMA said high-definition discs have been a bright spot. The group cited industry figures demonstrating a surge in sales of Blu-ray Disc players last year, and steady growth in HD software sales should follow.

"Blu-ray Discs have commanded premium prices, averaging about $10 more than the standard DVD version of the same title," the report said.

As for digital delivery of films and TV programming, the EMA cited a "dizzying array" of options for accessing content online. It added, though, that "packaged media remains the primary revenue generator for content suppliers."