EA calls shenanigans over NPD's lack of digital game sales

The monthly release of video game sales information from NPD Group is regarded as just about the most well-respected barometer as to how the industry is performing in the US and what companies are doing better than others. But the company has never included data for digital game transactions, which EA says makes all the information a bit sketchy.

"Using NPD data for video game sales is like measuring music sales and ignoring something called iTunes," said EA corporate communications exec Tiffany Steckler in an interview.

NPD's monthly lists tally up sales of every video game platform as well as the top 250 individual game sales across all platforms. It also reports how much in total spending there was in the industry. The specific numbers are not publicly released, but professionals in the industry can receive them and they have a way of being spread around the Internet.

However, the figures are made up entirely of games purchased at retail stores. If 100 people buy Burnout Paradise at GameStop and 50 more buy it through the PlayStation Network, NPD will only record 100 copies sold.

The company does keep an entirely separate set of data for digital game sales, and releases that information in a quarterly report. Those reports don't get nearly as much attention, though. And because they don't come out in monthly installments, it's difficult to analyze the industry as a whole.

For example, NPD noted in its most recent monthly report that retail video game software sales were down 8% in February 2011 compare to February 2010. But did an increase in digital sales make up for that? NPD doesn't provide a way for us to know. It simply reports that sales were down 8%, which causes market analysts and investors to take a step back.

Because of this discrepancy, Steckler said, "We see NPD's data as a misrepresentation of the entire industry."

The NPD data may not be entirely irrelevant, but the lack of an equal set of data for digital content does make it tough to properly analyze sales trends in the industry.

[Source: CNN]

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Mar 15, 2011


  • Manguy17 - March 25, 2011 5:56 p.m.

    so according to NPD steam has never sold anything?
  • acdcrock - March 17, 2011 5:34 p.m.

    @yasmarc How do we own less and have less rights when buying online? Sure we don't have a box or a disc but they're unnecessary. As for the EA codes thing, I rented Fight Night Champion and guess what you're allowed have a 7 day trial if you rent it. So it only screws people who screw them by buying pre-owned.
  • yasmarc - March 16, 2011 6:50 p.m.

    The more we spend on non-existent items the more power we give to these companies. What do we actually own if it's all becoming digital and we have less and less rights to the very things we pay for? I think there are going to be some big lawsuits in the near future the way companies are treating online purchases and gameplay with respect to their customers. Oh and fuck EA's codes for online play! Make it like old CD keys in that only one can be online at a time or something so people can borrow/rent games and not get screwed.
  • zarathustra - March 16, 2011 2:23 p.m.

    jmcgrotty, get with the times, you dolt. Online sales ARE a good thing (& need to be counted for TOTAL sales).
  • jmcgrotty - March 16, 2011 9:47 a.m.

    EA is 100% wrong. Don't try to add support for the false claim that online sales are a good thing. Counting the 17 extra copies a game would sell a month would just legitimize a horrible trend in gaming. This is just NPD's way of saying "shut up and get out of your damn houses, nerds" PLEASE quit supporting online commerce (sorry gamesradar ad department).
  • ItBurnsWhenIWii - March 16, 2011 6:45 a.m.

    EA is right. Especially when Mass Effect 2 PSN Downloades made up for around 10% of there copies sold. It does scare away possible investors. Its completley possible, and likely that there were more games sold in February then last year but if they don't include the downloadables games on XBLA, PSN, and Wii Ware and DSi Ware, the total number of games sold is going to seem smaller year after year, especially as we move closer and closer to download only games.
  • Maxw144 - March 16, 2011 12:51 a.m.

    I think digital sales information is really important. I buy all my psp games through download, and I'm sure there are tons of people who do the exact same (same with PC). It scares developers away when psp software is always shown as doing poorly, even when developers are happy enough with how things went.
  • Danqazmlp - March 15, 2011 11:35 p.m.

    Totally agree with EA, and the itunes comparison works perfectly.
  • corndog501 - March 15, 2011 11:16 p.m.

    @tiben36 I agree w/ EA completely. As a large multi-billion dollar corporation they need to know how the market is performing exactly otherwise a bad report might end up with them making a bad business decision. On a business end, NPD NEEDS to include online-distribution as it is a quickly growing form of distributing new titles whether they be AAA franchises or the small indie games. Not doing so will only further hurt market predictions resulting in probable stock losses from bad reports.
  • chrisat928 - March 15, 2011 11:14 p.m.

    Or you, NPDs should count every major store that sells video games. They don't even count Wal-Mart.
  • tiben36 - March 15, 2011 10:41 p.m.

    how about EA go fuck themselves, whiny bitches

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