Games press joins call for digital charts

Christopher Dring
Games press joins call for digital charts

The biggest names in the games media have joined MCV's call for digital data to be included in the games charts.

The Digital Counts campaign launched last week with an open letter to games publishers and platform holders, calling on them to share their data so that an accurate games chart can be created. Currently, the UK charts offered by GfK Chart-Track only factor in boxed game sales.

The campaign has been warmly received by the wider games media, with support from Eurogamer, GameSpot, IGN, Kotaku, Videogamer, Ars Technica, GamesIndustry.biz, Pocket Gamer, GodisaGeek and International Business Times UK.

Many of my favourite games from the last 12 months have been digital-only downloads, so for them not to be included in the UK charts is archaic, especially for an industry that prides itself for being at digital's cutting edge,” said IGN's UK editor-in-chief Alex Simmons.

Many smaller developers aren't getting the recognition they deserve, and the shift to a games chart that truly represents what consumers are buying needs to happen, and quickly.”

Eurogamer's editor Oli Welsh added: The lack of accurate data on digital game sales hampers the development of our industry and does a real disservice to games as an artform. Entire genres, business models, fields of development and even platforms are either under-represented or ignored completely in the charts. Most importantly, we get a skewed picture of what the public enjoys, and the amazing diversity of the medium isn't fully represented. The music industry figured this out a long time ago. It's time we caught up."

GameSpot UK editor Rob Crossley, added: We strive to give readers the most accurate information possible. Reporting on the UK games chart is at odds with this due to a vacuum of digital sales data.

I am sure that the decision makers at Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are deeply proud of the acclaimed and culturally significant games that give new life to their digital platforms. Divulging their sales data is a wonderful opportunity to show all entertainment sectors just how well the games business is thriving and innovating.”

Most media outlets say they will continue to cover the UK charts, but will do so with caveats that the data only factors in physical game sales.

Whilst bricks and mortar stores still play an important part in the sale and marketing of games, the rising relevance of digital retail has long been undeniable,” said Gamesindustry.biz European editor Dan Pearson.

Without a proper idea of what's selling on Steam, PSN and Xbox Live, it's impossible to fully understand the retail landscape in one of the world's biggest and most innovative games markets.

I'd be very pleased to see platform holders releasing sales figures. But this relies on the consent of the developers and publishers involved. I'd urge them to participate, allowing us all a closer understanding of the way our industry is evolving.”

Videogamer's Tom Orry added: With an abundance of digital-only releases and tempting digital price reductions, a chart that takes all these sales into account should absolutely exist. We'd love to report on this chart data, in turn giving our readers a true look at what's hot each week.”

Kotaku UK editor Keza MacDonald also feels that digital data should be included in the charts: "The charts have been misleading for far too long, and as they currently stand they serve neither developers nor players well. They don't come near to representing the full creative and commercial variety of the UK games industry and we won't be reporting on them until they do."

Digital Spy's deputy editor Matt Hill added: "After seeing music charts include not only digital sales, but also streaming usage as of this year, it's surprising to see gaming so far behind. Featuring digital sales would reflect how many of us buy and play games today."

Rob Hearn, managing editor at Pocket Gamer parent Steel Media, says that his site has long benefitted from an accurate mobile chart.

We use this data all the time, and if the same sort of data were available for PC and console, the journalists who write about them would be able to serve their readers much better.”

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