It’s an irrelevant measure on the industry. It’s totally irrelevant. We don’t even really look at it internally anymore.”
Those are the thoughts of EA Labels boss Frank Gibeau, who claims that the current perception of a games industry in trouble is mistaken.
"I think one of the problems with this industry right now is that people tend to look at it like they’re looking at an elephant through a straw,” he told Games Industry.
They only see a little parts of it and they’re not looking at the total picture. Between Facebook, social, mobile, free to play on PC, Asia, consoles… it’s a vibrant, growing, huge market. An occasional bad report from NPD, which measures a sliver of what’s actually happening in gaming gives people an erroneous impression.
"The number of Nucleus accounts we’re growing, the amount of engagement time that we have, the amount of services that we’re running – those are more important metrics for us than unit sales according to NPD and North America.”
Stats body NPD has unsurprisingly offered a differing assessment of the status quo, with NPD president David McQuillan, adding: "While digital is a growing part of the industry and something that needs to be addressed for the future, the current games industry is still largely rooted in retail and any industry player involved with AAA content simply can’t take their eye away from the retail environment.
Successful companies are looking at how their products are performing within all channels, particularly retail. For that reason, we were surprised to read the comments by Mr. Gibeau that EA does not look at NPD data internally at all.
"According to our latest estimates, new physical software represented 56 per cent of the consumer spend on games content in the US in 2011 and 70 per cent in Q4, specifically.
If a publisher that produced AAA content were in a position where they could not access NPD data to analyse, review and benchmark against competition and the rest of the market, we would think they would be challenged to effectively manage an important part of their current business and their relationship with the retail community.
While we will not comment on the specifics on our long-standing relationship with EA, we can say with confidence that we have daily dealings with all of our major publisher clients. And we know for a fact they’re using the data."