Opinion: Where next for the digital chart?

Christopher Dring
Opinion: Where next for the digital chart?

In March, we combined digital sales with physical to put together an alternative UK chart, and the reaction was incredible.

Popular consumer site Kotaku decided it wouldn't run chart stories until digital sales were included, and almost every publisher (including Take-Two's CEO) expressed an interest in sharing their numbers. The MCV inbox was bulging by the end of the week. Two months on, we still don't have a chart.
And we've discovered how some platform holders can't even produce one. But we're getting there.

We were contacted by a few data firms in the wake of the story, too. Some simply wanted to attach themselves
to our campaign, which is fine but not particularly helpful. Others - including SuperData - wanted to offer us data to print. Which is what we have for you this week.

The numbers on the front page of MCV are for console sales only. It isn't perfect, it's still in beta, and there will be a few things a little off. It's a work-in-progress, and all feedback is useful. But this is at least something, and it provides us with an idea of the impact digital is having in the console space.

And we're eager to discover what this data means to different people.

For instance, what do you see when you look at our front page? Do you think: ‘Wow, digital is already one-fifth of the console sector, and that includes the big blockbusters'? Or is your reaction: ‘Clearly physical retail remains the dominant power in the console world'?

Now take a look at Minecraft's figures. Do you think Minecraft's half-and-half split between digital and physical is good news or bad news for the High Street?

What might seem a negative to you, may be viewed as an opportunity for someone else.

That's why, for all our campaigning for more visibility in the digital space (and we aren't about to stop), the industry should never become over-reliant on these figures.

At London Games Conference two years ago, Sega's John Clark took to the stage to warn against over-analysing the market. Data can help you make business decisions, but it shouldn't make them for you. Ignoring the trends can often be as lucrative – more so sometimes – as following them. If the industry spends too long staring at the numbers, then everyone will be making the same games, for the same platforms and with the same business models.

More digital data is needed, but a business that becomes reliant on it will only stifle creativity, not reward it.

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