IN-DEPTH: Why digital games charts for the UK matter

IN-DEPTH: Why digital games charts for the UK matter

The UK games market took a bold step towards accurate games download charts today.

As part of the release of download charts from March, 2012 historical info and a wider call for industry support, UK trade association Ukie has published


ABOUT THE UK'S NEW DIGITAL GAMES CHART

The digital sales portal, managed by Ipsos MediaCT, gathers UK PC digital full game, expansion and DLC sales direct from publishers, developers and digital retailers. The portal also includes boxed PC games data supplied by Ukie, compiled by GfK Chart Track.

In 2012 nine companies supplied digital sales data to the portal as part of a beta trial, so really As a result digital sales are highly underreported in this summary. The boxed data included gives full UK market coverage of boxed PC games.


Q&A WITH UKIE CEO JO TWIST

Q. What is different about this announcement and why has it taken so long to create the chart?
A. The key announcements being made today are the publication of digital charts for 2013 and the great news that, having come out of closed beta with a working portal and verification process, companies are invited to sign up to the project and start accessing the portal for free.

We have deliberately taken time to ensure that the reporting portal, created by market leading data analysts Ipsos Media CT, is robust, accurate and delivers the information required by those developers and publishers supplying data.

We are happy that this is the case and so we are opening up the project to any company with UK PC digital sales data to participate. To reiterate a key point – if you supply data you can access the portal, run reports, assess performance and get that competitive advantage that comes from having data – for free.

Q. Is this a Ukie chart?
A. The digital charts have been created by industry players for the industry. Ukie members have funded the investment required to create the portal but any company with PC digital sales data can contribute data and access the system for free if they add their data.

We will use the portal to create and distribute charts and reports alongside its existing boxed equivalents and use its digital sub group to guide the project forward.

Q. Where is Steam? How can the chart be relevant without Steam?
A. Although Valve do not supply their data directly to us, we are able to collect verified, audited Steam data directly from the developer or publisher of the game titles. The quality of the Steam reports ensures high quality data is supplied to us by the IP owner.

The games developer or publisher also supplies data from other sales channels to build up a comprehensive picture of the UK market.

Q. A lot of assumed credibility is being given to Ipsos. How can you be sure that the data is correct and reliable?
A. Ipsos are a recognised leader in the gathering, management and presentation of industry data. They meet key ISO standards ISO27001 and ISO9001 covering data security and storage. Ipsos also have an established industry track record through their leadership of the major consumer research project, GameTrack.

Ipsos have developed a robust and transparent auditing process that puts the onus on data suppliers proving where they data is sourced. A data supplier also has to maintain good records, will be audited regularly and agrees that Ipsos can undertake spot checks as required.

As the digital chart is a project for the industry we believe companies will be compelled to deliver accurate data. Those found not doing so will be removed from the project.

Q. The chart is currently PC focused - where does console fit in? Why should a predominantly console publisher care?
A. PC is the perfect platform for the first digital chart as it's not only a vibrant and viable format, it's further down the road in making the transition from boxed to digital. It is also an open format with equal access to companies of all size – so our project will benefit developers and publishers of all size.

We fully intend to increase the range of platforms included in this project and have had positive conversations across the industry. The portal itself has been designed to accommodate new platforms and data seamlessly. Our experiences on PC will stand us in good stead for working on other platforms in the near future.

Q. What's the early-adopter advantage to a publisher or a developer jumping in now?
A. The data in the online portal is made available to all data suppliers for free. Therefore, early adopters get a great competitive advantage by being able to see market and competitors data to help inform their business decisions. This data has never been available before and is there to support any developer or publisher of PC games.

Companies involved from the start also appear to be market trendsetters as opposed to me-too companies.

Q. What's in it for indies?
A. Indies, like all companies in a competitive market place, need to have the very best market data at their disposal and this is the first source for real market data in the PC digital space.

Understanding your own company, or title, performance in the market as a whole or against competitive titles is fundamental to making good business decisions. Data is also an integral tool to attract investment for an organisation as it forms a key ingredient in any business plan.

Finally, being in the charts has always been an outstanding way of promoting the success of an organisation and product. Indies have not always been visible in the boxed charts. The digital chart represents, for the first time, a level playing field for indies to achieve chart recognition.

Q. Can international developers submit their data? Why is this a UK only chart?
A. We are taking this project one step at a time. Creating a working solution for the UK market is merely stage one. The digital group of companies leading this project will decide where the project goes next.

If they decide to expand to other territories or formats the portal is ready to accommodate this need.

International developers and publishers can submit data on sales made to UK customers to the project. Subject to meeting the verification process, which includes location of customers, then developer / publisher data would be welcomed into the portal.


INDUSTRY TESTIMONIES

AndyPayne, CEO Mastertronic Group:As an independent self publisher and developer who has been selling our games digitally for 9 years, we know that digital is key to our growth. We use data every step of the way to both inform and support our decision making. For the very first time it is now possible for us to measure ourselves against the market and this is an amazing and vital step in our evolution as a games maker. Having personally initiated this project back in 2010, it has been a long and frustrating journey thus far. But we are very much at the start of something exciting and important for all of us.

I can remember when the retail charts were set up, 20 years back. At first people said it would never work and then they said that the reach was not representative of the true market. It takes time to gather the momentum and credibility we all need to believe. Digital goes faster and I expect all games makers will want to input their data and get back more data entirely free. I am sure people don't believe the easy mechanics and commercial model here. Put simply, if you put your data in, you get so much more back. I would urge everyone who sells games digitally to come an join this party, you get out so much more than you put in!”

Simon Protheroe, Online Publishing Director, Square Enix Europe: For the first time w

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