'Call of Duty: Black Ops III' sold more copies in 2015 than albums by Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith
Revenues across the British (home) entertainment media, encompassing music, movies and video games, totalled £6.1 billion ($8.9 billion) in 2015, according to figures published by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA). That's an all-time high figure, surpassing the previous year best of 2004's £6.04 billion ($8.8 billion)—impressive indeed given how hard it can be for consumers in some towns to even get to a record store.
Sales of music on vinyl rose by 65 percent, but still only account for 6 percent of the total album market—that so-called revival is evident, then, but its impact on the bigger picture remains minimal. Compact disc sales were higher than they've been in over a decade, no doubt helped by the phenomenal physical-formats success of Adele's 25, which is the biggest entertainment "product" of 2015, selling 2.6 million copies against FIFA 16's 2.5 million and a bit. Interestingly, sales of download albums are on the wane, down 13 percent on the year before, indicative of a continuing move from ownership of digital music to streaming services.
But while Britain's best-selling video game couldn't come out on top of the overall pile, gaming's slice of the revenue pie was by far the biggest—and the ERA doesn't even have all of the sales data. Games sales, based on figures provided by GfK Chart-Track, amounted to £2.8 billion ($4.08) billion) against music sales of "just" £1 billion ($1.46 billion).
The problem here, such as it is, is that the games industry is notoriously awful at tracking its sales data, and the "official" charts never factor in all of the many thousands of weekly digital downloads. (VICE Gaming contributor Ian Dransfield wrote a piece on this for Kotaku UK, which you should read.) With PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, the Nintendo eShop, and Steam choosing not to share their download stats, the actual sales figures for games in 2015 will be significantly higher than what the ERA is able to confirm. In a nutshell, gaming is massive, and if you didn't realize that already: Hey, welcome to the biggest entertainment medium on the planet. They're alright, these video game things, you know.
What the ERA has done is produce a top ten of 2015 entertainment products, ranked by sales figures. Five games feature in the chart: FIFA 16 at number two with over 2.5 million sales; Call of Duty: Black Ops III at three with a tickle under two million; Fallout 4 at five (1.12 million); Star Wars: Battlefront at eight (just over a million); and Grand Theft Auto V at ten (just under a million). That's Grand Theft Auto V, a game that came out in 2013, selling better in 2015 than movies like Fifty Shades of Grey and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Not bad, games, not bad.