The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (iGEA), New Zealand’s interactive games industry body, reports that sales of gaming software, hardware and peripherals generated $179.6 million in 2011.

The data was compiled by market research company NPD Group and has captured close to 100 percent of New Zealand’s offline computer and videogame retail data for the first time.

The data does not include sales from the online retail of physical and digital games, online game subscriptions, in-game microtransactions and mobile game downloads.

The iGEA’s director, Mark Goodacre, acknowledges that the rapidly growing popularity of online retail means the true figure is likely to be higher.

“As people increasingly consume interactive entertainment through mobile devices and online, it’s becoming more difficult to collect sales data through a single source. Looking at the latest Digital New Zealand report, we see that Kiwi gamers are almost buying equally through online stores and local retailers.”

The Digital New Zealand survey reports that 24 per cent of Kiwi gamers buy games new from a download store, and 14 percent buy boxed games new from an online store, with 37 percent of those consumers shopping online locally.

Another study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers corroborates the growing trend in online purchasing, saying it expects revenue for online purchases in New Zealand to increase by 12.5 percent to $13 million in 2015, and mobile games are predicted to rise by 10.5 per cent to $99 million in the same period.

Stephen Knightly, Chairperson of NZ Game Developers Association, sees the growth in digital distribution of games as an export opportunity for New Zealand.

“New Zealand is already a net exporter of digital games. Local game studios selling our games over the Internet and smartphone App stores earn more than Kiwi gamers spend playing digital and online games.”

“Online, social and mobile games have been the fastest growing parts of the games industry in recent years and they’re also the kinds of games that Kiwis are good at making.”