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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare takes UK Christmas No.1

Call of Duty is once again the UK's Christmas No.1 video game - according to the GfK box charts.

Not that it was a particularly glorious pre-Christmas week for UK physical retail. Just over 1m games was sold, which sounds a lot, but is actually over 20% down compared with the same week a year before. One senior retailer told me this week that selling games during Q4 has been "like walking through treacle."

We have discussed at length what may be causing the sudden drop in the market, from consumers buying fewer games and spending longer in them, gamers holding off until the prices drop, too many similar games released at the same time, digital taking a higher percentage of sales... but a more simplistic reading of the chart is that there weren't as many stand-out hits this year.

Yet if you look at this week's Christmas charts and eye what has done well, then you'll see that there were a lot of games that beat expectations over Q4 - and these were the titles that offered something a little different from the usual shooters.

Take the recent Forza Horizon 3. It is No.16 this week, but it continues to do very well. If you compare this Christmas chart to last year's, you'll see that Horizon 3 sales are 70% higher than 2015's Forza Motorsport 6 (and that had been on shelves longer). This year, Forza benefited by being the only racing game released in the last four months of the year.

The Skyrim remake (No.7 this week) has also done incredibly well, and it helped that it was the only real RPG to come out until Final Fantasy XV popped up a couple of weeks ago (and that game is doing decent figures, too, although it's not clear if it is meeting Square Enix's expectations just yet).

In fact, look across the board at the over-performers, such as Pokemon Sun and Moon, and it proves that you don't need to be about shooting to do well at Christmas.

Elsewhere, Watch Dogs 2 continues to show improvement after its disappointing first week - it's not quite matching Assassin's Creed's annual numbers yet, but it has generated a decent install base and looks like a long-tail seller. Sales rose 73% this week and the game is back in the Top Five.

Steep is another game showing long-tail success. Its initial launch was a bit underwhelming, but its sales rose in its second week and has now risen again in its third - up 60% week-on-week, which means it finally breaks into the Top Ten.

Elsewhere, discounts on Dishonored 2 brought that game back to the charts, Mafia III sales shot up to make No.10, while there was sales growth for FIFA 17, Grand Theft Auto V and Overwatch.

Last week's big new releases - Dead Rising 4 and The Last Guardian - fall to No.18 and No.20 respectively.

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