Station 2 Station
PS2 game sales in 2005 in the UK grew by four per cent to an all-time high of 23.84m units, representing a staggering 43.2 per cent of all software units sold in the UK - though its overall market share dropped by 0.2 per cent overall year on year. This incredible figure is by far the most ever shifted on a single format in a year. To put these figures in some kind of context, ten years ago just 7.2 million units of software sold across every format in the UK, showing just how fast the market has grown since Sony entered it.
However, by value, the PS2 market share actually dropped from 47.8 per cent in 2004 to 44.4 per cent in 2005 thanks to falling game prices and incredibly aggressive retailer discounting. Nevertheless, the actual revenue figures last year of Ł54.0m are more than double the figure attained by the PlayStation in the sixth year of its life, when figures of Ł26.93m were enough to claim 37.5 per cent of the market for Sony. It should be noted, though, that the PlayStation had to compete with the newly released PS2 and the relatively new Dreamcast, while the PS2 had most of 2005 to itself, with the 360 launch only a factor in the last month of the year.
Sony's total UK market share reached a new all-time unit peak in 2005 of 48.6 per cent (by units) across all three of its formats. By value the figure was even more impressive, commanding some 51.3 per cent of the entire software market - the company's best UK performance since 2002, when it hit a value peak of 51.9 per cent. The 2005 figures are well up on 2004, when the company managed 49.2 per cent market share by value, and 47 per cent of the units. Blah blah invert the polarities.
In terms of game sales, the PS2 was once again the consumer's format of choice. Unsurprisingly, the main big sellers were the familiar multiformat names like FIFA 06 (with almost three quarters of a million on PS2 alone), Pro Evolution Soccer (over 500k) and Need For Speed: Most Wanted (over 500k), while WWE Smackdown vs. RAW 2006 and The Simpsons Hit & Run both scored almost 300k a piece (with the total now over one million).
As for the other big multiformat titles on PS2, sequels continued to be hot property, with Activision's Call of Duty 2: Big Red One almost hitting 300k and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas clocking up another quarter of a million, while Medal of Honor: European Assault, Sonic Heroes and Sonic Mega Collection Plus shifted around 200k apiece (the former now, by some distance, the biggest selling 3D Sonic game in the UK).
Some might be surprised that TimeSplitters Future Perfect sold just under 100k, but it's a growing trend as we reach the end of the format's peak, with almost every major sequel released in 2005 selling noticeably less than previous incarnations (Conflict Global Storm, for instance, sold around 50k, SSX On Tour less than 40k), suggesting consumers will only buy annual updates for so long before looking elsewhere. Still, it's a good tidy business to be in, by and large.
As ever, movie adaptations were a licence to print money on the PS2, with three Star Wars titles in the PS2's overall top ten: Episode III (over 400k), Battlefront II (over 300k), and Lego Star Wars (almost 300k) occupied numbers 6, 7, and 8 respectively. King Kong also did well to get to number ten overall with sales of nearly 300k. Further down the list, it's interesting to note that neither The Matrix: Path of Neo or EA's From Russia With Love did as well as past games in the Neo/Bond area. Meanwhile, Batman Begins matched being rubbish with a rubbish performance - just 61k - implying that punters don't always feel like spoiling their recollection of an excellent film with an awful game.
In terms of the PS2's many exclusives, there weren't too many truly massive ones in evidence, with most publishers going fully multiformat. Sony, though, had a few biggies up its sleeve - Polyphony's long-overdue Gran Turismo 4 shifted by far the most with the number two seller title doing well over 600k. Next in line on the exclusives list was Konami's Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater at number 14 (over 250k), while Sony's new quiz offering, Buzz - The Music Quiz, was the surprise package at number 21 with over 200k sales. Elsewhere, another Sony mass-market offering, Singstar Popworld, did well at number 35 to sell over 150k, with other 100k-plus sellers like Namco's Tekken 5 at 57 and Singstar '80s at 59.
Scanning further down the list, other PS2-only successes include Devil May Cry 3 at 67, God of War at 82 and Eye Toy Play 3 at 87, all of which sold over 70k. The big surprise, though, was that Namco's excellent Soul Calibur III sank almost without trace at number 182, with less than 30k sold. It wasn't the only quality first party exclusive to disappear below the radar, though, with the overlooked Jak X at 259 (less than 20k), and Ratchet: Gladiator at 141 (around 40k). Tragically, the superb Sly 3 (probably the best platform game of the entire year - Psychonauts didn't pitch up here until 2006) hit number 347 with sales of just over 10k.
But the best sellers list on PS2 wasn't entirely hogged by all the old staples, and there were some big new brands to emerge in 2005. The critically murdered FIFA Street proved a massive hit on its debut release in spring, going on to be the fifth best seller of the whole year, with over 450k sales on PS2 alone. Other 'new' brands like Lego Star Wars did alright too. LSW did almost 300k on PS2 alone, while Vivendi deserves a mention for doing something outside its film/cartoon comfort zone with 50 Cent: Bulletproof (over 200k) - although perhaps not an honourable mention. Meanwhile, THQ deserved its success with Juiced (over 200k) after acquiring it from Acclaim's grave and polishing it to an even better standard.
Rockstar, meanwhile, delved into the movie world's cult past to produce a surprising success with The Warriors (over 150k), and LucasArts/Pandemic scored a great critical and commercial success with Mercenaries (almost 150k), as did THQ with another Pandemic title Destroy All Humans (over 130k), which proved that publishers can score big summer hits with the right kind of focus even on new IP. THQ also did reasonably well with The Punisher (over 70k), capping a good year in the UK for the US publisher.
Outside of the big numbers, it was encouraging to see good debut successes for Midway's 8/10-rated Area 51 (over 60k), SEGA/Creative Assembly's Spartan: Total Warrior (almost 70k), while Capcom's Shadow of Rome and EG favourites including Fahrenheit and Super Monkey Ball Deluxe performed steadily at around the 30-60k mark. Finally, who would've expected Neversoft's Gun to outsell Tony Hawk? It did - almost reaching gold status.
So then. The PS2's all-time top ten:
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
- Grand Theft Auto 3
- The Simpsons: Hit & Run
- Gran Turismo 3
- FIFA 2004
- Need For Speed: Underground 2
- Need For Speed: Underground
- FIFA 2003
- Medal of Honor: Frontline