EA has sharply criticized the tracking data from the NPD Group, saying that neglecting digital sales makes the figures misleading, according to a report from CNN Money. "Using NPD data for video game sales is like measuring music sales and ignoring something called iTunes," said EA corporate communications executive Tiffany Steckler. "We see NPD's data as a misrepresentation of the entire industry."
The comments come in light of the most recent NPD report, which reported an 8% drop of software sales. Without seeing exact figures for digital sales, it's hard to tell if they would make up the difference.
At the same time, digital sales have been steadily growing. EA itself reported that its digital revenues were up 39% year-over-year, and is forecasting $750 million in digital sales when the fiscal year wraps up at the end of this month. Activision, likewise, enjoys heavy digital revenues from World of Warcraft subscriptions.
In response, the NPD's Anita Frazier told Shacknews that the company does track "other areas of consumer spend" in the Games Industry Total Consumer Spend, a quarterly report that accounts for digital sales including digital downloads, add-on content, mobile apps, and social network games. "[Retail] is still the majority at approximately 70%, so it is relevant but it is not the total story," said Frazier. "That is covered in our Games Industry Total Consumer Spend Service which we report quarterly."