Sales of videogames at UK retail are down 25 per cent on last year, leading one publisher to describe the situation as "an absolute nightmare."
MCV reports that this year's major new releases are selling between 10,000 and 48,000 in their first week on shelves; last year they were selling between 35,000 and 80,000 units.
"We are trying to understand it," one publisher said, "but everything is selling well below what it should. It is an absolute nightmare. I'm not making half the money back I'm spending on marketing."
Even those at the top of the charts are feeling the effects of the decline. Launch sales of current all-formats number one UFC Undisputed 3 are a third of those enjoyed by the first game in the series.
The well-publicised struggles of Game Group, the nation's largest specialist retailer, raise the question of whether its ability to source new stock following the loss of its credit insurance could be the driving factor in declining sales. However, the head of one Japanese publisher's UK division poured cold water on that theory.
"There are some stock shortages at retail, but I don't think that's what's causing these figures," the source said. "The big games of last year are available cheaply. But also, consumers don't want to spend money, and we as an industry are not giving them any reason to change their minds. I will be watching Mass Effect 3 andSyndicate very closely."