Nordic_Map-SFEB. 19, 2009 • The year 2008 saw ups and downs for the Scandinavian countries of Europe. In Sweden 2008 the game sales reached €285 million, which is an increase with 34.0 percent compared to 2007. The unit volume was the same year-on-year with 7.7 million games. The most likely culprit being the wider availability of more expensive next-gen games. Console games amounted to 71.7 percent of the games sold, despite Sweden being a country with a long PC gaming tradition. Not even the juggernaut launch of Wrath of the Lich King, the World of Warcraft expansion that saw sales of 150,000 units, could uplift the platform. PC games sales decreased 27.1 percent in volume.

Sales in Finland registered an increase of 7.1 percent to €86.5 million and the unit volume decreased by 3.9 percent to 2.3 million games. Console games, including portable, accounted for 80.2 percent of Euro sales and 67 percent of the volume. Of that percentage, games for Wii, PS3 and 360 stood for almost half of the sales.

Norway saw an increase of 12.6 percent, totaling 668.5 million NOK in distribution value. To make it comparable with the Swedish and Finnish figures above, the Norwegian distribution value translates to approximately €116.5 million in consumer value with VAT. Playstation 3 increased its games sales with 122.0 percent. The format now stands for 25.8 percent, which puts the PS3 ahead of the PC (19 percent) and Xbox 360 (15.4 percent).

Not even the Lich King could lift PC game sales in Sweden.
Not even the Lich King could lift PC game sales in Sweden.

Nintendo Co. Ltd. is doing very well in the Nordic countries. Bergsala, which distributes Nintendo in Scandinavia, reported solid numbers for 2008. Last year they shipped 300,000 Wiis – more than half of those units being moved during the fourth quarter – which brings the installed base to 530,000 units. The Nintendo DS still remains their best product, however. Bergsala shipped 349,000 DSs during 2008, elevating the installed base of the handheld to 950,000 in Scandinavia.

Nordisk Film, which distributes the PlayStation 3, and Microsoft’s European division, do not provide shipment figures for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in the Nordic region. Microsoft includes them with Europe as a whole.

That said, the picture we are receiving is that the Xbox 360 price drop is helping the platform gain market share in Scandinavia. That gain also got an assist from a strong slate of titles such as Fable 2, Left 4 Dead, Gears of War 2 and Lips that have faired well in sales.

Our view is that Sony is on the right track with user-generated content for the Nordic countries. For example, you’ll find many impressive home-made quizzes in Buzz Quiz TV. While Little Big Planet, on the other hand, seems to be a favorite among the critics but the general public hasn’t grasped it yet. Fans of the title love the game and created plenty of levels, but it’s still too abstract and advanced for a casual gamer. While the title has charted, the sales hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Singstar Abba has been a big hit on the PS3.
Singstar Abba has been a big hit on the PS3.

Where Sony has had huge success is with Singstar Abba that sold more than 80.000 units in just a few weeks during 2008 with the biggest chunk of sales on the PS2. The more casual demographics that go with the older platform have gone hand-in-hand with the virtues of the game, however thanks to exclusive content in the PS3 version Sony managed to sell 10.000 units of that version. Together with Buzz Quiz TV this signals a transition of casual gamers to the PS3 even though the steep price point of the console.

Contrary to the DS, the PSP is fairing horribly in Scandinavia. Unlike in Japan which has titles like Monster Hunter to drive hardware sales, the rest of the world bemoans a serious lack of new titles on the PSP release schedule. The PSP games sales declined with 21.6 percent in Sweden, 49.3 percent in Finland and 32 percent in Norway.

Sweden Console ShareAs for console hardware market share, the data in Sweden is tracking similarly in the other Nordic countries, except for the PS3 is fairing a bit better, while Xbox 360 is having a little harder time.

Martin Lindell is an analyst with DFC partner Dataspelsbranschen (Swedish Games Industry), the organization of Swedish publishers and distributors, and game developers. Norwegian figures courtesy of NSM and Finnish statistics courtesy of Figma.