In a world first, the UK has been the first games market to produce an accurate download chart, plus a chart that mixes download and retail sales.
This morning UK trade association Ukie has taken the wraps off of its digital chart project for PC, revealed today as a major effort undertaken with data tracker Ipsos.
After running in beta for a year, the new charts and tracking are now recording digital sales.
Unlike the retail charts covering boxed games – which sees retailers feed their daily reports into GfK Chart-Track HQ which then combines them – the data from the new PC chart comes direct from developers and publishers.
Given the fractured nature of the PC download market, it’s up to content creators – not their retailers – to supply this data.
The first official recorded data from the chart, supplied by Ukie, shows the variety of data available through the new system – from download-only data, to a mix of retail and digital, tracking in both revenue and unit terms plus records of add-on sales.
This morning Ukie has said that, for March 2013, SimCity was the best-selling game on PC when you combine digital and retail sales. But a digital-only record names BioShock Infinite as the download No.1, proving the spread of sales on PC across both boxed and client-served games.
There is one catch to the system, however: not everyone in the industry is signed up to supply data.
Ukie’s official details name major PC games publishers Disney, Electronic Arts, NCsoft, Sega, Square-Enix, Take-Two, Ubisoft and Warner Bros as key partners on the project – plus an number of independent developers and digital retailers who are providing data in order to allow for double-checking.
But there are some absences, most clearly Activision Blizzard, which sells titles like Call of Duty through Steam.
Its StarCraft II expansion Heart of the Swarm, for instance, is recorded at just No.2 in the boxed charts released today – and as one of the major releases in March would likely have factored higher in the combined charts if Blizzard was supplying its data.
Ukie is now reiterating its call for the entire industry – from big firms like Activision to small developers selling games to UK customers – to take part in the project.
The association has been courting industry partners for over a year to be part of the project.
The hope is that the sheer power of the data will eventually persuade the eye of the more reluctant businesses – the fact that anyone who takes part in the process gets data for free (unlike under the current model for detailed physical reports), can’t hurt.
"Companies that are involved are already getting a competitive advantage, using the data to make informed and fact based commercial decisions," said Ukie CEO Jo Twist, who put the digital charts into beta last year shortly after taking over the trade association.
At special industry briefings detailing the charts two weeks ago, she told MCV: "This type of information is invaluable, it helps create business confidence and is appealing to investors, too."