UK Charts: Need For Speed fends off GTA
EA fights off Rockstar for third week at No.1.
EA has kept its unbroken streak at the top of the UK charts, as Need For Speed: Underground held on for its third straight week at No.1, fighting off a concerted challenge from Rockstar's GTA Double Pack which moved up from No.7 to No.2 on the back of its recent Xbox release. To complete the national obsession with car racing, The Simpsons: Hit & Run occupied the No.3 position.
Budget sales up
Unsurprisingly, there were no new entries in a chart dominated by post Christmas sale activity, and no fewer than nine budget titles found their way into the All Formats Top 40, headed up by Crash Bandicoot: Wrath Of Cortex, up to No.13, while the likes of Hitman 2 (No.19), Splinter Cell (No.23), Spyro: Enter The Dragonfly (No.30), Conflict Desert Storm (No.36), TimeSplitters 2 (No.38) and Rayman 3 (No.40) all proving to be very popular at a lower price point.
But many so-called full price recent releases have been heavily discounted as well to get them moving out of warehouses, notably the magnificent Prince of Persia (No.11), XIII (No.17), and Soul Calibur II (No.22), while Manhunt has no doubt benefited from post Christmas sales, having shot up from No.29 to No.16 this week.
Significantly, Nintendo finds itself in the second week of the year already without a single exclusive title in the All Formats chart, with No.1 Cube title Mario Kart: Double Dash!! managing an apologetic No.32 on the Full Price listing. Once again, the GameCube Top 20 has a healthy proportion of exclusives among its titles (12), but scanning through the list reveals that the majority are budget titles, and that the only two publishers seemingly capable of selling full priced titles on the format are EA and Nintendo itself.
But the situation isn't much different on the Xbox, with Project Gotham Racing 2 (No.31) once again the only Xbox exclusive title in the main chart, and only one other exclusive Xbox title in its entire Top 20 (Top Spin - No.14) - food for thought for third party publishers looking to release Xbox exclusive titles, and Microsoft itself, given the number of titles it has released for the machine recently.
The PS2 has three exclusive titles in the Top 40, with EyeToy: Play (No.14), Manhunt (No.16) and SmackDown (No.24) proving the most popular, illustrating how common the all format title is these days - and also showing how few exclusive killer apps were released on the Sony format this Christmas.
The PC chart isn't the most exciting place to be these days, demonstrated by Norton Internet Security at No.1, outselling Eidos' Championship Manager: Season 03/04, while Norton Antivirus moves up to No.6 among various Sims titles that dominate the Top 20. Of the handful of PC exclusives, the fading Call Of Duty drops to No.7, the discounted Empires Of The Modern World drops to No.11, The War Of The Ring is down to No.16, while the Neverwinter Nights: Underdark makes a belated entry into the chart at No.18, ahead of the deluxe edition of C&C Generals, at No.20.
The master of the all format strategy, EA, is - once again - the big winner of the week, claiming no fewer than six of the Top 10, headed up by Need For Speed, and supported by Return Of The King (No.4), FIFA (No.6), Bustin' Out (No.7), Rising Sun (No.8), and Tiger Woods (No.9). But its breathtaking strength in depth is amply illustrated by the fact that it has a further eight titles in the rest of the Top 40. Only Rockstar and Ubisoft come close to matching EA's tally, with four apiece.
Next week is unlikely to be much different from this week, with the market going into its traditional hibernation period. The GTA Double Pack could finally claim the No.1 position, but it looks like a long hard winter ahead for the majority of publishers desperately trying to compete with EA.