NPD makes new digital pledge

Following recent criticism from publisher EA, NPD has once again pledged to introduce digital sales numbers into its monthly US video games sales data.

"We are expanding the number of digital retailers we have relationships with in order to develop a digital POS (point of sale) service," NPD analyst Anita Frazier told Games Industry.

"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 format, and to deliver this at the same frequency as we currently do for new physical retail sales (monthly).

"It will become increasingly challenging for the financial community to create proper valuations of companies in the absence of an objective third-party source covering the entire market, and it will be harder for companies to manage their businesses and resources without visibility into all forms of distribution."

Last year EA claimed that digital has grown to such an extent that it now accounts for 40 per cent of overall industry sales – a number that NPD itself corroborates.

The implications of this is that UK and US chart data, which since 2008 has painted a picture of steady decline for the video games industry, is no longer representative of the continued growth that many believe continues to propel the sector forward.

This resulted in a strongly worded attack from EA earlier in the week where the publisher claimed that "using NPD data for video game sales is like measuring music sales and ignoring something called iTunes – we see NPD’s data as a misrepresentation of the entire industry".

However, we should’t get too excited about these new promises from NPD. As long ago as 2009 NPD was talking up the impending arrival of a digital chart.

It’s a similar story on this side of the Atlantic. As far back as 2007 Chart-Track was discussing the need to digital sales numbers.

It looked as if it were about to become a reality in 2009 though come 2011 trade body UKIE is still calling in vein for the crucial support needed from partners such as Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network and Steam if such data is ever to become a possibility.

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