UK game sales for 2003 were the highest ever according to the latest annual figures released by ChartTrack and ELSPA, reaching £1.26 billion for all "leisure" software during the year - up a not inconsiderable 7.1 per cent on 2002.
Predictably, FIFA 2004 was the biggest seller with over 600,000 units in a year when publisher Electronic Arts swept aside the competition, with no fewer than five titles in the Top 10, and 14 in the Top 40 best sellers for the year.
ELSPA's press release was painfully light on useful facts, but stated that a record 15 titles attained Platinum (300,000+ sales) status in the 10 weeks leading up to Christmas (mainly EA titles: FIFA, Rising Sun, Need For Speed, ROTK, SSX 3, Quidditch and Tiger Woods, along with EyeToy: Play, Simpsons: Hit & Run, Pro Evolution Soccer 3, and most likely Max Payne 2, Smackdown, Tony Hawk's Underground and True Crime) and mentioned that a depressing quarter of the Top 40 best sellers were based on film or TV licenses. Don’t expect that trend to abate any time soon - in fact the film buffs among you might want to predict which ones will be 2004's bankers for the games industry.
2003's big licensed hits included Harry Potter & the Chamber Of Secrets, Return Of The King, The Two Towers, Enter The Matrix, Finding Nemo, Starsky & Hutch, Spider-Man: The Movie, James Bond: Nightfire, Terminator 3, Scooby Doo and Shrek, but we could also reel off a gigantic list of flops to illustrate how pointless an exercise it can be. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon anyone?