Last year was the best year ever for computer games, which racked up record sales figures, helped by the launch of Nintendo DS, Sony PSP and Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles during the past 12 months.

According to the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association an astonishing 1.35 billion worth of games were sold during 2005, up 0.7% on the previous years record figures, in what has been described a "transition year for the industry" due to the imminent launches of next-generation formats.

The drop to 0.7% rise in sales compared with the impressive 6.6% achieved in 2004 is put down to consumers being hesitant over the purchase of games and consoles when far superior versions are due out, such as the Xbox 360 which launched in December and Sony's forthcoming PlayStation 3 which isn't expected until later this year or possibly even 2007.

Sales can't have been helped however by shortages which have been widespread this year, due in part to the PlayStation Portable smashing UK launch records when it launched in the summer, leaving retailers with minimal stock levels for several weeks, and the Xbox 360 supply being limited due to the worldwide launch, leaving many gamers disappointed and empty-handed on launch day, whilst still waiting for their pre-ordered machine over a month after launch.

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