EA criticizes NPD tracking

EA has sharply criticized the tracking data from the NPD Group, saying that neglecting digital sales makes the figures misleading, according to a...

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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."

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 14, 2011 1:30 PM

    Comment on EA criticizes NPD tracking, by Steve Watts.

    • reply
      March 14, 2011 1:38 PM

      Glitch in the matrix?

    • reply
      March 14, 2011 1:42 PM

      I thought NPD didn't report on digital sales because most venues don't release those figures? It's not like they're "ignoring them," it's more like Valve et al keep a lid on them.

    • reply
      March 14, 2011 1:44 PM

      How about publishers report the figures and eliminate the need for the NPD?

      • reply
        March 14, 2011 1:51 PM

        That would make sense. The industry doesn't do "make sense"...

        • reply
          March 14, 2011 1:53 PM

          Oh right. I forgot and used logic instead of emotion on the internets. Whoops. :P

      • reply
        March 14, 2011 1:54 PM

        That doesn't seem the best solution to me. The middle-man approach with the NPD helps mitigate the fear that publishers skew their numbers. NPD also is handy for tracking data historically.

        • reply
          March 14, 2011 2:19 PM

          The numbers are skewed anyway since they don't count all sales.

        • reply
          March 14, 2011 2:20 PM

          Unfortunately, that data becomes less relevant each year as digital sales grow.

          • reply
            March 14, 2011 2:33 PM

            Historical data is still relevant in some spheres, such as the DS for example. Digital downloads haven't affected that platform, and likely won't affect the 3DS either, with the trend they've set with DSi's digital games.

            And by skew the numbers, what I meant was that publishers can compile numbers so they look better than if you picked them apart. For example, Activision claimed Black Ops launch day sales of, 5.6 million, but those big numbers were from the combined sales of the U.S. and U.K. Were they not big enough alone?

            Examples like this are why I'd rather have just strict numbers, as unbiased as is feasible. I don't want to be marketed to. I just want the data.

      • reply
        March 15, 2011 4:16 AM

        Other industries have groups just like the NPD that generate reports and analysis for clients and investors as well. It's not an unusual thing.

    • reply
      March 14, 2011 1:58 PM

      Summary: 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."

      • reply
        March 14, 2011 2:58 PM

        "...and as the company that really makes it as irritating as possible to play our games online, what with people having to sign in to separate accounts and all..."

        • reply
          March 14, 2011 3:12 PM

          What? You don't want to have to have an internet connection every time you load your game of Dragon Age just because you wanted to use the bonus content delivered as DLC? Not that, you know, that bothered me or anything.

          • reply
            March 15, 2011 3:23 AM

            You don't have to sign in every time. For DA2, you only have to sign in once per new game if you want the "unlockables" items. All other DLC, you only have to sign in once, ever.

    • reply
      March 14, 2011 3:36 PM

      EA said that 10% of Mass Effect 2 sales on the PS3 were from the digital version. Plus consider how big Steam has become. Valve never has to make another game again. I mean the entire PC industry is practically digital now. It's a very fair criticism.

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      March 14, 2011 4:02 PM

      lol u mad?

    • reply
      March 14, 2011 5:59 PM

      I can kinda understand EA's side of things, if they look bad in the NPD then their shares drop right?

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        March 14, 2011 6:03 PM

        Except it's likely that this affects every other publisher.

        To be fair it'd be very handy if the NPD reflected digital sales but I doubt Steam is going to open up soon.

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      March 14, 2011 6:06 PM

      I might be a minority but I actually kinda like EA online store. There little application for dling games isn't hard to use and they have some pretty kicking sales like a month or 2 after a game is released.

      I remember picking up bc2 like 2 - 3 months after release for like 35 dollars.

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      March 14, 2011 11:37 PM

      Whilst Valve wont disclose sales, I don't believe there is anything stopping individual publishers/developers who sell their games on the service divulging the total sales breakdown for their games, is there?

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        March 15, 2011 8:20 PM

        I imagine it wouldn't be accurate unless all of the publishers gave that information. If it were the digital outlets themselves, it would be a lot more accurate.

    • reply
      March 14, 2011 11:44 PM

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    • reply
      March 15, 2011 3:00 AM

      Yeah if Dragon Age 2 retial PC sales were still 21% of total before steam etc then im gussing that would be more like 50%.

      THat could have a big impact on how a series is handled in the future!

    • reply
      March 15, 2011 6:05 AM

      Numbers would help, I know 7/10 people who bought RIFT on Steam, rather through retail. http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2011-03-10-trion-digital-sales-even-stronger-than-people-would-expect