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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 18:38 GMT
Europe 'to lead video games market'
Xbox
Xbox wants a slice of the European market
Western Europe will become the world's biggest market for computer games software within two years, an industry body has said.

As Microsoft's Xbox counts down to its European launch, the European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) announced that it expected the market to exceed that of North America by 2004.

Roger Bennett, director general of ELSPA, said: "It's mainly because here you have countries which, until now, have not traditionally had a big market for gaming."
Computer games markets
US/Canada 5.6bn
Western Europe 4.2bn
Japan 2.8bn
Source: ELSPA 2002

"The European market is steadily expanding."

"It is in the US and Japan as well, but there is a greater degree of opportunity in Europe," added Mr Bennett.

Western Europe already lies in second place for annual sales of computer games, ahead of Japan, but behind the combined US and Canadian market.

Sony's Playstation 2
Sony's PS2 has sold heavily worldwide
ELSPA says that it is growth in Spain, Portugal and the Scandinavian countries which will be most marked.

As for the UK, the organisation's figures show that some 30% of British households currently have video games consoles - and ELSPA predicts this figure could double within three years.

Prize

The prediction comes 30 years since Pong, for the Atari console, was launched in the US - the world's first home computer game.

The European market is the prize which Microsoft hopes to win with the launch of its much-hyped Xbox at midnight on Wednesday.

Nintendo's GameCube
Nintendo's GameCube is also enterng the market
It is being marketed as the world's most powerful console and Microsoft has said it will sell between 4.5 million and six million units around the world by the end of June.

But the console is up against the new GameCube from rival Nintendo, which goes on sale in the UK on 3 May for about 150 - half the price of the 299 Xbox.

But both will be facing another threat, from Sony's PS2, which was launched in November 2000 and has already sold 18 million consoles worldwide.


In DepthIN DEPTH
Video games
Console wars, broadband and interactivity
See also:

13 Mar 02 | New Media
Xbox ready for midnight launch
13 Mar 02 | Reviews
Xbox means business
07 Mar 02 | New Media
Microsoft to fix Xbox 'problems'
22 Feb 02 | New Media
Hundreds queue for Xbox in Japan
14 Nov 01 | New Media
Microsoft boxes clever
15 Nov 01 | New Media
Microsoft unleashes Xbox
14 Nov 01 | New Media
Console wars hot up
07 Mar 02 | New Media
Online future for PlayStation 2
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