FEATURE: ‘A digital chart is vital’

MCV quizzes UKIE board member and Sega UK MD John Clark on the importance of including digital sales into the weekly charts…

You spoke at the London Games Conference this month about the evolution of packaged and digital content. Before LGC we surveyed 1,000 industry experts and three quarters said that digital sales will overtake boxed by 2015. When do you think this will happen?

Although there is an inevitable move towards digital, I firmly believe that retail will always play a vital role in the promotion and delivery of video game products to the consumer.

Provided there is choice and availability, the footfall throughout traditional retail cannot be ignored.

On specific games we see strong digital sales, but this is different on a title-by-title basis. But look at franchise performance and we see the digital component really promoting growth. This is down to the availability of catalogue and varied content, keeping the consumer constantly engaged – a shift from a hit-driven experience.

Digital outperforming packaged by 2015 is possible. Packaged may still have the edge but it‘ll be close.

The vital element is to support packaged releases with digital components. But we must remember ‘digital’ has many different areas.

With Football Manager 2012, we measure year-on-year sales against 2011. But Total War has over 12 different pieces of content that are only available digitally. This adds a different layer that challenges like-for-like measurements.

Without an accurate measure of digital sales it will be difficult to say when downloads exceed boxed sales. Sega is part of the UKIE sub group that is creating digital charts. How is the project going?

Sega has been involved in this project from the outset and there has been significant progress.Asking companies to share their precious digital sales figures with their closest competitors was an ambitious objective. But UKIE has managed to get support from a substantial number of publishers and digital distributors and I am confident that the results will be worth the wait.

It is important to note that this project is not just for UKIE members. The digital charts are for the whole games market and any company involved in digital sales could and should be involved.

Why are digital charts important?

Let’s take a step back and look at how the boxed charts, the UKIE Games Chart, has served over the years. They have allowed the UK industry to positively promote the sector to government, media and consumers with empirical evidence of growth and success. And it is no exaggeration to say that many businesses use the charts as a key business planning tool.

The current charts’ weakness is that they do not include any digital sales. As this channel grows it is vital that we measure performance – of the whole market, our own products and also our performance against other company’s products.

There are also a plethora of firms only on digital platforms that are not getting the much needed exposure they deserve. In many ways it is these self-publishing developers and digital studios that will benefit the most and they should get in touch with UKIE to get involved.

For more information on taking part in the digital charts please contact Sam Collins at UKIE on sam.collins@ukie.org.uk

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