NPD planning to report digital sales monthly

The NPD Group is working on shoring up its data with digital retailers, in an effort to ultimately create a monthly total sales report that includes digital sales.

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The NPD Group, the market research firm that has come under fire recently for its retail-only video game sales reports, is working on shoring up its data with digital retailers. Ultimately, the company aims to create a monthly total sales report that includes digital sales.

"We are expanding the number of digital retailers we have relationships with in order to develop a digital POS (point of sale) service," the NPD's Anita Frazier told GamesIndustry. "The goal is to provide our clients with a total POS games tracking service that incorporates the growing digital channel as well as the currently predominant physical sales format, and to deliver this at the same frequency as we currently do for new physical retail sales (monthly)."

Part of the process, she says, is for digital distributors to be open with their own sales figures. "We expect it to happen, especially as digital grows to become a larger portion of the consumer's overall spend," she said. Frazier also mentioned that without this openness, it will become "increasingly challenging" for businesses to make decisions regarding digital investments.

Only two days ago, we heard similar (but harsher) rhetoric coming from EA, going so far as to call the NPD data "a misrepresentation of the entire industry." At the time, Frazier told Shacknews that its quarterly reports include digital sales. The NPD Group could have been planning the jump to monthly data before EA's comments made headlines, but stating so publicly shows that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 16, 2011 7:45 AM

    Comment on NPD planning to report digital sales monthly, by Steve Watts.

    • reply
      March 16, 2011 7:49 AM

      Well let's hope so! It could make them relevant again (at least in the PC gaming industry).

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        March 16, 2011 8:39 AM

        agreed, the only way to show the "death of PC gaming" is bullshit, is to show the numbers.

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      March 16, 2011 8:46 AM

      Good on them.

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      March 16, 2011 8:49 AM

      So.. they're saying that if and when other digital stores report sales, then they'll report sales? Copy & paste research?

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        March 16, 2011 8:51 AM

        The issue is a lot of digital distributors are private, Steam, Impulse, and I believe GOG just to name a few. They don't have to post numbers so the NPD can't simply aggregate them when they want to.

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        March 16, 2011 8:52 AM

        "We are expanding the number of digital retailers we have relationships with in order to develop a digital POS (point of sale) service."

        I don't think you understand how NPD gets their data.

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        March 16, 2011 9:08 AM

        Uhhh, the research is always copy & paste in one way or the other. How do they know how many units a game sell in retail? They don't, they have to ask to retail shops and publishers and copy and paste that information from a email from their sources.

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        March 16, 2011 9:09 AM

        AND they'll make you pay for the non-public stats. I think that Steam and other services should refuse to allow NPD to use their stats, or force NPD to pay fees steeper than what NPD charges.

        The NPD stats that are public are a joke now, and there are no details unless some publisher or analyst discloses them.

    • reply
      March 16, 2011 8:52 AM

      Summary: The NPD Group is working on shoring up its data with digital retailers, in an effort to ultimately create a monthly total sales report that includes digital sales.

    • reply
      March 16, 2011 10:34 AM

      And suddenly the PC is the top platform for total units moved.

      • reply
        March 16, 2011 10:39 AM

        Isn't retail still something like 70% of the market?

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          March 16, 2011 10:42 AM

          For PC? LOL. Unless your buying COD its almost impossible to find PC games in retail stores these days.

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            March 16, 2011 10:44 AM

            I think you'd be surprised, especially for the likes of WoW, SC2, The Sims, etc, the games that sell 5+ million copies like a big console release

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            March 16, 2011 10:45 AM

            I'm talking about across all platforms. I believe that Dynotaku was making the assertion that once digital distribution is factored in the PC would become the dominant platform.

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              March 16, 2011 2:29 PM

              NPD estimated that digital accounts for about 30% of total sales across all platforms, yeah. I'm not sure how they came to that conclusion without tracking digital sales...

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                March 16, 2011 2:59 PM

                I'm assuming they're estimating based on the fact that they're tracking retail sales and some publishers report total sales with digital sales included.

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        March 16, 2011 10:45 AM

        Im a PC gamer, but this is crazy talk, dude.

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          March 16, 2011 10:55 AM

          According to this: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/32120/

          "traditional" PC gaming (digita/retail/MMOs) are 30% of the total dollar sales, 51% if you add social networks and casual game portals. That's versus 43% for consoles.

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            March 16, 2011 10:59 AM

            Are we counting social networks and casual game portals?

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              March 16, 2011 11:09 AM

              His post very explicitly differentiated between them...

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                March 16, 2011 12:31 PM

                Yes, hence my wording, which used his phrasing. I thought it was pretty obvious, but I guess not .... My point was that why would we count social networking and casual games? Are we going to start counting games on Newgrounds.com as well? Where do you draw the line?

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                  March 16, 2011 12:32 PM

                  You draw the line wherever game companies make money. Zynga makes electronic video games that make money; thus they count.

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                    March 16, 2011 1:10 PM

                    Sure, they could do that. But now we're talking about an exponentially larger tracking process for the NPD. Quite a departure from keeping up with boxed retail copies from established vendors. There's a deluge of social networking titles. I think it makes more sense to track ... I'll go ahead and say it, ACTUAL games.

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                      March 16, 2011 1:19 PM

                      Unfortunately for you opinion, those are actual games played on display equipment (video games). So yes, they count. They count as much as browser games (Quake Live), microtransaction games (Guild Wars), and mobile games (Angry Birds).

                      They're one of the biggest developers and publishers around. Similar to Valve, who makes ACTUAL games, they're a private company that makes a lot of money. That lets them fly under the radar because they do not have to report profits or income.

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                        March 16, 2011 1:26 PM

                        And props to them for expanding the market. I'm just not sure it's appropriate to pit microtransaction-based games within the same arena as traditionally priced games.

                        I'll reiterate that I think it's infeasible to expect the NPD to track numbers on this scale. Their quote up top says they are attempting to expand the number of "digital retailers we have relationships with in order to develop a digital POS (point of sale) service."

                        To track them on the scale that you're wanting them to (all "actual games played on display equipment"), we're talking quite a task, considering that some retail vendors never even agreed to spit out numbers for the NPD, first and foremost, Walmart. You're proposing that NPD create relationships with, Steam, Direct2Drive, GoodOldGames, Impulse, Facebook, I suppose the guys that run Maple Story? the list goes on and on...

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                          March 16, 2011 1:48 PM

                          Therefore NPD is now useless.

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                            March 16, 2011 1:55 PM

                            NPD is useless because it can't track detailed consumer spend on facebook games?

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                            March 16, 2011 1:59 PM

                            That's not what I was saying. I just think it's unreasonable to expect the NPD to cast nets in every single video game medium.

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                      March 16, 2011 3:09 PM

                      I think there's a false equivalence going on here. You seem to want to compare the traditional "gamer" market on PC vs. console so you want to eliminate social/casual from the PC side of the equation. But what about console minigame shovelware targeting kids, exercise games, Brain Age, etc.? How do you filter those out of the console numbers?

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                        March 16, 2011 3:15 PM

                        You don't filter them out. You let them continue to be a blight on the monthly numbers, because that's the only fair thing to do. They count as retail sales, as much as Black Ops does. But Brain Age and Carnival Games aren't easily comparable to Farmville or Zuma Blitz.

                        What's your plan?

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                          March 16, 2011 6:55 PM

                          Going back to the Gamasutra link, where you guys were disagreeing about whether PC was bigger or smaller than Consoles, you seemed to think that the extra 21% PC was getting from social/casual should not be counted, in spite of the fact that these are people that are handing over cash to play "video games". I'm merely suggesting (in a roundabout way I admit) that at least some of that 21% seems very analogous to some of the casual retail console titles in many ways. What's the difference between a mini-game collection on the Wii and a pay-to-play web portal with mini-games on it? How do the dollars count more on one side than the other?

                          Also, if you divide the numbers by average title price, which is going to be lower on PC, you might see that total units moved is higher on PC.

                          I have no axe to grind because I like each gaming platform and I don't actually know what the true numbers are, but I do think that console devs who have left or are neglecting the PC market are making a huge mistake that hurts both us and them, similar to making a PS3 or X360 exclusive (except without the big payout for doing so by MS or Sony). I've heard some of these guys claim (Epic, I think?) that console is 10-to-1 greater than PC, and I believe they are reading the numbers wrong. (i.e. not looking at other important factors, not comparing their numbers to what others in the industry are able to do, etc.)

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            March 16, 2011 11:26 AM

            MMOs count as traditional PC gaming?

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              March 16, 2011 11:56 AM

              Indeed they do. They've been around for a long time (1997 for UO, 80s for MUDs)

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                March 16, 2011 1:38 PM

                Never thought of the MMO audience as one that bought other games. So the $500MM per year or whatever MMOs manage isn't really up for grabs for more mainstream PC releases, so the numbers don't really reflect the market size. I don't think I've seen someone list Everquest or Meridian59 along ye olde titles like Xwing or Red Alert or Doom.

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                  March 16, 2011 1:51 PM

                  I never put MMO gamers and non-mmo ones in separate categories. If they like one they'll definitely like the other. Maybe in the past, MMOs were played by a bit older audience since they required money from a credit card, and a dedicated internet connection but nowadays everyone has that, even kids.

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                  March 16, 2011 2:32 PM

                  MMOs are more mainstream than FPS or RTS games

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                  March 16, 2011 2:36 PM

                  Most MMO players don't ONLY play MMOs. They probably buy less games than someone who doesn't play MMOs, but that would be expected.

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                  March 16, 2011 3:16 PM

                  I think many MMO players don't play a lot of other titles because the MMO sucks up all of their gaming time. Virtually every MMO player I know has been a "traditional" gamer in the past and would probably return to being one if every MMO shut down simultaneously. In fact, they will frequently quit WoW to try whatever the new MMO of the day is. Of course invariably it will suck and they'll resub to WoW eventually.

                  I'm wandering a bit, but my point is most of them are "gamers". They are just extremely pre-occupied with one game at the moment. Actually, a lot of people do this with CoD, Madden, etc. anyway. (although usually for shorter lengths of time.)

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          March 16, 2011 11:27 AM

          For number of retail units moved, the PC will win hands down.

          However a million copies of Super Meat Boy at $3.75 won't make as much money as COD7 did in one day last year.

          But still, it'll make the PC look very healthy

          • reply
            March 16, 2011 1:55 PM

            You know it's not all just about making money in brute terms. I bet you that a number of these indie devs are more profitable and comfortable making their games and selling however much they're selling than activision is making CoD games. They spend a lot of money to make that money, and while I'm sure CoD and Starcraft 2 as well as WoW are covering their costs, they also have to make money to cover activision's blunders like Guitar Hero and everything else they fuck up.

            Indie devs don't have that problem. They release on Steam, get their money all the time, know how much they've sold, get rubberbanding effects from sales and promos Valve does for them, and their games cost nothing to make. I imagine that's a far less stressful, far less pressure heavy life than working at Treyarch or wherever.

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              March 16, 2011 2:44 PM

              I agree with this partially. When you're a no-name company that hasn't put anything out on the market and are depending on its success to put food on your table, I imagine that's highly stressful. If you're cranking out a sequel in a franchise, it's pretty much a guaranteed success, even if the game isn't great.

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              March 16, 2011 6:56 PM

              This is my guess too just from the types of games being made and the production costs involved. I hope so at least.

          • reply
            March 16, 2011 2:02 PM

            Yeah, NPD is going to have to start keeping track of the average price per game sold as well.

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