EA's unstoppable run at the top has continued, with Need For Speed holding onto the No.1 spot for the sixth straight week.
Yet again, half the top ten belonged to the US giant, with FIFA 2004 (No.3), Return Of The King (No.5), The Sims Bustin' Out (No.8) and Rising Sun (No.10) all still selling exceptionally well despite their incredible Christmas performances.
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Bizarrely, the strongest challenger came from the unlikely source of Norton's Internet Security 2004 package at No.2, while Vivendi's biggest ever hit in the UK, The Simpson's Hit & Run holds strong at No.4. EyeToy: Play (No.7) and the GTA Double Pack (No.9) also continue their good runs.
There was just one new release of any real significance last week, as Illusion's 2002 PC hit Mafia muscled its way back to the No.6 spot in the Top 40 (No.3 PS2), on the back of last Friday's PS2 release, although might have fared even better if the Xbox version hadn't been delayed until the end of this month. Gathering's other new releases fared less well, however, with Vietcong: Fist Alpha managing a No.13 placing on the PC budget chart, and the double pack Purple Haze edition entering at No.20 on the full price PC chart.
There were no new entries anywhere else in the chart, reflecting possibly one of the most barren release periods in gaming history. Predictably, the likes of NFL Street, Looney Tunes: Back In Action and Arc: Twighlight of the Spirits failed to spur gamers into stores, but all that changes this Friday with a host of gaming goodness in prospect.
There was little change in the Xbox listings, with the GTA Double Pack holding off Project Gotham Racing 2 for the top spot, and once again the format fails to boast a single exclusive title in the entire Top 40 - PGR2 coming closest at No.30 in the Full Price listing. The discounting of Microsoft's poor-selling supporting line-up has had little effect, with both Counter-Strike and the circa 10,000-selling Grabbed By The Ghoulies slipping five and six places respectively to No.9 and No.11, while Links 2004 holds at No.14. On the whole it's a chart dominated by multi-format titles (and mainly EA ones at that) rather than triple-A exclusives. Most gamers, it appears, are not buying an Xbox for its exclusive titles - Halo and Gotham aside.
The opposite appears to be true on the GameCube, where multi-format titles have fared poorly in comparison, and exclusive titles have performed often exceptionally well. There are no significant changes in its Top 20, with Mario Kart: Double Dash!! once again No.1, although it could only manage No.38 in the All Formats Full Price chart - the only Cube exclusive anywhere near the best sellers right now. The fact that the Cube's No.1 title is outsold by the PS2's Full Price No.20 (Ratchet & Clank 2) spells out the extent of the gulf in sales for Nintendo's formant, while the fact that seven out of the Cube's Top 10 are distributed by Nintendo spells out the buying habits of Cube owners clearly enough.
The PS2 is, as usual, dominant, with 18 out of its full priced titles in the Top 40 (All Prices) chart, alongside 10 of its budget-priced titles. Nine out of those titles are not available on any other console, but it's the mass-market multi-format titles that are really shifting on the format. In most, if not all cases they're technically the inferior version, yet the public doesn't seem to notice or care.
The forgotten gaming format, the PC, has yet to wake from its prolonged commercial slumber, with two out of the top three titles utilities from Norton. ChampMan and The Sims continue their reign near the top, but outside of that the only title generating any excitement is Call of Duty at No.5. Beyond that, you're left with strategy and RPG fare with War Of The Ring at No.13, KOTOR at No.14, and Empires: Dawn Of The Modern World at No.15.
Finally, in GBA land, Finding Nemo continues its seemingly unstoppable reign at No.1, with Sonic Advance making a surprising surge to No.2. Elsewhere it's the usual diet of Pokemon, Mario, Spyro and Crash titles, interspersed by some of EA's biggies like Bustin' Out and Return Of The King. Sim City 2000 makes a belated new entry at No.17 from Britsoft rising stars Zoo DIgital, but that's about your lot for week five. See you next time.