Last year was a tough go for most game retailers with three of the four categories we track down substantially from 2004. ICv2 estimates that dollars in the hobby channel declined about 15% in 2005, hardly a heartening performance, but the 2005 drop-off was significantly less than 2004's decline of 20%, and a strong 2005 holiday season kept the year from becoming a total disaster. One distributor told ICv2, 'Over-all, I think it was the holiday season we needed to see for a lot of stores.' The lone bright spot in the games market was the Family/Board Game category, which posted a nearly 18% gain for the year.
Other categories were not so fortunate -- collectible card games declined substantially and from the head down as the categories aging top performers, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic, both dropped and new entries in the highly competitive market failed to get much traction.
There were some bright spots. Magic's second-half release, Ravnica, performed much better than its predecessor, the Kamigawa block; and Pokemon and Comic Images' CCG version of the Energizer Bunny, WWE, maintained some momentum; but ICv2 now estimates that the overall CCG market in the U.S. is around $450-$500 million versus our perhaps too generous estimate of $800 million in 2004.
Sales were also down for miniature games, with drops in sales of both CMGs and un-painted miniatures. While there were some success stories such as Privateer's War Machine, ICv2 estimates that the category declined about 25% in 2005.
Role-playing games are the smallest category we cover and RPGs continued a pattern of steady decline thanks in large part to the success of online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft and City of Heroes. The one sector that prospered in 2005 was the Board Game and Family Game category, which was aided by a very strong fourth quarter performance.
In the Retailers Guide to Games #9, ICv2 also released its rankings of the top ten games in each category. Here are the top five in each:
Top Five CCG Properties
2. Magic: The Gathering
5. Legend of the Five Rings
Top Five Miniature Game Properties
1. Pirates of the Spanish Main
3. Star Wars CMG
4. Dungeons & Dragons
Top Five Board Games
1. Settlers of Catan
3. Ticket to Ride
4. Axis and Allies
5. World of Warcraft
Top Five RPG Lines
1. Dungeons & Dragons
2. World of Darkness
3. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying
4. Green Ronin
For info on how to get your copy of the ICv2 Retailers Guide to Games #10, which contains much more market information see 'ICv2 Releases Retailers Guide to Games #10.'