UK virtual reality market plummets, but games remain buoyant

Josh Hall's picture

The UK video games market was worth a record £5.7 billion in 2018, growing 10 per cent on the previous year.

This is according to a new report published today by video games trade body Ukie, in association with IHS Markit.

Both software and hardware sales grew by more than 10 per cent in 2018, with digital products breaking the £4 billion mark for the first time. Hardware sales also hit a new high, of £1.57 billion.

But the virtual reality market, for which many marketers have had high hopes, had a parlous year, with hardware sales dropping by 20.9 per cent to £72 million.

Ukie says the fall is due to early adopters of VR technology waiting for the launch of the next generation of headsets.

Virtual reality was the only hardware category surveyed by Markit that saw a fall during the year. In software, sales rose in all categories other than boxed software, which saw a slight fall of 2.6 per cent as gamers continue to shift to digital downloads.

But the market for cultural products that support the games industry had a difficult 2018. Sales of toys and merchandise fell by 23.7 per cent according to industry body the NPD, while sales of gaming books and magazines saw a slight dip of 1.3 per cent.

Commenting on the report, Ukie chief executive Jo Twist said: “The UK games industry is a cornerstone of the country’s cultural landscape and continues to work hard to create new, innovative and exciting content that consumers want to experience, and that helps to drive the industry forward year on year.”

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