Video games outsell music for first time

Swedes will spend more on video games than on music for the first time in 2006, according to forecasts from the two industries collated by Swedish Television.

Music sales have been declining for many years, slumping from 1.9 billion kronor in 2000 to 975 million kronor last year. Figures from the industry organisation Ipfi show that the decline has continued this year.

But at the same time, sales of video games are soaring.

“We’ve seen growth every year since 1998, and this year we expect our members to make sales of over 1 billion kronor,” said Per Strömbäck, managing director of the Swedish association of video and computer games manufacturers, MDTS, to The Local.

But Strömbäck added that the figure could be much higher.

“That needs clarification. That’s the amount that our members have sold to retailers. Then you have to add 70% for margins and tax. So really, Swedish consumers will spend around 1.7 billion kronor on software.”

Strömbäck, whose organisation represents eleven member companies including Atari, Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Vivendi Universal games, puts the rapidly-changing fortunes of the two industries down to the way they have handled piracy.

“In the 1980s, 99% of the games played were pirated copies,” he told The Local.

“Today that figure is just 70%, and all of our business models are based on that. On the other hand, piracy is relatively new to the music industry – now they are seeing the effect.”

In the first six months of 2006, music sales in Sweden continued their downward trend, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Single and album sales fell by 17 percent and 9 percent respectively, and while digital sales shot up by 422 percent, they still only accounted for 7 percent of the total.

“Globally the picture is the same,” said Per Strömbäck.

“It’s difficult to compare figures internationally, but it’s possible that Sweden is the first where video game sales are higher than music sales.”