* Sales of PC, video games seen up 3 pct in 2011
* Game application sales up 13 pct in H1
* Strong German economic growth benefiting the sector
By Michelle Martin
COLOGNE, Germany, Aug 19 German video game
consumers appear unfazed by global economic uncertainty and are
boosting spending on the latest new games.
"People yearn for entertainment in the good and bad times
and probably more in the bad times so the impact is low," said
Uwe Bassendowski, Managing Director for Germany of Sony Computer
Entertainment , the division responsible for the
PlayStation 3 console.
Sales of PC and video games software and income from
online business models rose 1 percent in Germany in the first
half of the year to 793 million euros, according to Germany's
Federal Association for Interactive Entertainment Software
"Up to the end of the year we are expecting slight growth in
turnover of up to 3 per cent in total," said BIU managing
director Olaf Wolters.
In the first half of 2011 sales of game applications
rose 13 percent year-on-year in Germany, the BIU said.
The German gaming industry was unlikely to be affected by a
possible recession in the United States, Sony's Bassendowski
told Reuters on the sidelines of Gamescom, Europe's largest
video game trade fair.
"We are in a very comfortable situation because consumer
confidence is there and the market is developing positively."
IHS Screen Digest analyst Steve Bailey agreed that consumers
would not put off purchasing upcoming new titles like Star Wars:
The Old Republic, Batman Arkham City or FIFA 12.
"It's not just about depth of escapism, but the perceived
value of per-dollar entertainment that a video game can
provide," he said.
"We have a momentum that is given by the economic
situation in Germany," Oliver Kaltner, General Manager of
Consumer and Channel Group at Microsoft Germany,
told Reuter s, citing falling unemployment and strong
He added that the threat of an economic downturn in the
United States had not yet dented sales.
"So far people don't spend less, but they spend more time in
making the right decision before they make a purchase," he said.
"The games business is...not affected by recessions and not
dependent on economic performance, but more dependent on whether
there are good games on the market or if there is something
new," Bernd Fakesch, Nintendo Germany's General
Manager, told Reuters.
An increasing number of "freemium" games which are free to
play but charge players for additional extras, will help shield
the industry from a possible recession, Bailey said.
"With these service-oriented online games providing such
economical entertainment, as well as major packaged franchises
finding ways to engage players for longer, it's difficult to
argue that games will suffer harshly during a near-future
downturn," he said.
Kaltner also said Microsoft was upbeat about Christmas
holiday season sales in Germany after upping its local market
share in consoles by 9 percentage points over the last 12
months, after introducing the hands-free Kinect gaming system.
It's not all blue skies for the German gaming industry,
though. Kaltner said the country's console market was "between
stagnating and slightly declining" and predicted that the trend
would continue as the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii reach the
end of their life cycles.
But Mark Cerny, President of Cerny Games and an industry
consultant, said that a decline in the global core console
games business by 10 to 20 percent in the last two years
was just "a benign market readjustment in the face of
competition from the iPhone, iPad, and free to play games".
(Editing by Nicola Leske and David Cowell)