2014's UK retail software sales figures (anything which isn't a digital download, then) are in, thanks to Matt Matthews.**UK software sales chart**
**UK software sales table**
The figures are compiled from various reports on the UK games market, and they paint an interesting narrative as to where things are going now that all three eighth generation consoles have been on the market for over a year.
Unsurprisingly, there was growth in PS4 and Xbox One software, both formats having been on the market for the entirety of 2014, compared with around two months of 2013. But what's surprising is the extent of that growth.
Both PS3 and Xbox 360 software sales saw sizable declines in 2014 - declines which are in close range to overall PS4 and Xbox One software sales growth for the year. This is especially surprising given how the biggest releases of the year are cross-generation, indicating strong current-gen uptake for both software as well as hardware. Expect publishers to start dropping the older systems from here on out.
Wii U software sales saw small gains of around 200k (a 32% rise), likely attributed to the arrival of flagship, long-awaited titles such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. However, the decline in its Wii predecessor's software sales was five times larger than this gain, at around 1,000k (a 60% fall), further cementing the ongoing assumption that people aren't making the switch from Wii to Wii U. The effect is particularly pronounced when you factor in how the Wii is at the end of its life, with no major new software releases to note, yet the Wii U has seen a bumper crop of first party software over the last two years.
Every other format saw declines, consistent with the 6.6% decline
in boxed video game sales across the year. 3DS's decline reflects its weaker software lineup relative to 2013, though Tomodachi Life turned out to be a surprising hit. Sony's PS Vita is still doing small numbers - smaller than software for the decade-old DS, the DS itself seeing a 60% fall in software year on year.
This should comes as no surprise to anyone who has tried to find Vita software at UK retail - even specialist retailers like GAME aren't dedicating shelf space for the format. Vita's decline at retail reflects an ongoing shift towards digital for the format, though it's worth noting that in January 2014, the majority of Vita software was consumed as physical media.
Xbox One and PS4 are the clear winners here as far as where software sales are headed, but Xbox 360 was still on top in 2014, commanding a 500k lead over PS4. Expect that lead to diminish in 2015. It'll be interesting to see whether a new hardware launch for 3DS can spark enough interest in physical software to reverse the decline in that format's software sales.