Bitkom: Computer games industry is facing a difficult year

Ralph Haupter, Manager bei Microsoft und Mitglied des Microsoft-Präsidiums
Ralph Haupter, Manager at Microsoft and Member of the Microsoft Board
Photo: Christoph Mukherjee

Sales of hardware, software and online services will fall this year to 2.5 billion euros, a drop of 100 million euros, said the IT industry association Bitkom on Monday in Berlin. As the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii have been on the market for several years, hardware demand is falling, said Ralph Haupter (PDF link), board member of the association and manager at Microsoft. In addition, the Bitkom sees the software prices under pressure, especially because cheap apps for mobile devices and free online games are booming. The organization based the forecast on figures from various market researchers.

The lifecycle of the current generation of consoles last much longer than in the past: Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii are up to seven years on the market, said Haupter. The plus in accessories - especially motion controls such as Kinect and Move - could not compensate for that, said the previous German boss of Microsoft, who heads the China business of the US group since April. Nintendo plans to release its new Wii U console later this year, Microsoft and Sony have not yet announced successors to Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

The days when almost exclusively boys and young men with computer games pass the time are over. Around 35 percent of people in Germany play, at least occasionally, as a representative Forsa survey commissioned by Bitkom revealed - in addition to 44 percent of men now also 28 percent of women. Haupter attributed this to new offerings such as apps for smartphones as well as sports games. The younger users are particularly active: while 68 percent of 14- to 29-year-olds play, it is among the 30- to 49-year-olds 38 percent and among the 50- to 64-year-olds now 24 percent.

However, just under half of respondents (47 percent) are willing to spend money. 41 percent use only free online games; twelve percent did not know if they were paying. Titles on DVD - whether for the PC or a console - still bring in the most. Users who basically invest money in games pay an average of 18 euros a month. For games apps are spent on average 2.20 euros, for subscription fees 1.90 euros, for purchases within games 1.70 euros. Forsa interviewed 500 users aged 14 and over for the study and 1, 000 for the proportion of players in the population.

Especially popular are games for in between, so-called casual games. This trend is closely linked to the success of smartphones and tablet computers, Haupter said. "Breaks in everyday life, such as on the bus or at the doctor, are easily bridged with casual games." 70 percent of female and 58 percent of male players use this genre. Most often men play strategy games (62 percent); Action (43 percent) and race titles (38 percent) are also important genres. Women also like strategy (53 percent), but also spend time on platforming (41) - which includes moving games - as well as social games that dock on social networks (29 percent) and learning games (25 percent). (Dpa / tc)