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Op Ed

Gamasutra nails it. If you are interested, GameInformer offers the new NPD report.

Gamasutra - Why Gamasutra is skipping monthly NPD reports.
NPD obviously knows the importance of tracking and reporting revenues from digital venues, such as paid downloads, subscriptions, mobile, etc., as well as used game and rental revenue: The company now includes monthly estimates for these streams. But the way that publishers and digital distributors like Steam lock down their sales data, it's hard to imagine anyone making accurate estimations of sales by title, or even overall digital sales.

The fact that NPD only focuses on U.S. sales is also an issue -- some of the biggest players on digital platforms are internationally-operating companies like Blizzard, Riot, Supercell, DeNA and Rovio.

Additionally, a while back NPD stopped reporting on software unit sales in its monthly report, leaving us questioning for some time, "What's the point?" So as editor, I need to ask myself if the monthly NPD figures paint a truthful picture of the video game industry -- does conveying monthly NPD releases to our readers help in their day-to-day decisions? I have to say "no." I've seen on Twitter and in Gamasutra comments that a lot of our readers also answer "no." Even the president of the Entertainment Software Association, Michael Gallagher, agrees that the monthly NPD U.S. retail figures hold little value these days.

As a resource for the game industry, it's not enough for Gamasutra to disclaim monthly NPD articles in the phrase, "Keep in mind, these are only physical, new U.S. retail sales." We probably should have stopped running the figures (particularly the software sales figures) a little while ago, honestly.

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16. Re: Op Ed Jun 19, 2013, 00:38 Dev
 
Movie box office numbers are much closer to complete than PC game numbers  
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15. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 21:00 Beamer
 
Sepharo wrote on Jun 18, 2013, 20:44:
people just want to know what the top selling games are overall.

But no one is offering that. Many countries don't have a company like NPD that aggregates B&M sales, so you can't get much from them. Valve contractually can't give out Steam numbers. And publishers rarely give out their own numbers because it does them no good, other than trumpeting huge hits.

So, if it's a choice between physical sales in the US and nothing... I'll happily take at least one data point with numbers behind it.

And while I agree that posting it monthly doesn't necessarily have the importance it once did, and I'm sure it cost Gamasutra a good amount of money to do, I'm arguing against the strawman that hasn't come up here but regularly does: that NPD is useless and needs to die.
 
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14. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 20:44 Sepharo
 
It really just depends on what you're looking for...

Are people reading Blue's and Gamasutra looking for the stats on North American boxed retail? I'd say no... people just want to know what the top selling games are overall.

As the Gamasutra post says they'll still use the numbers occasionally when they want to discuss NA boxed retail sales but posting it monthly doesn't really have the importance it once did.
 
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13. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 17:46 Mashiki Amiketo
 
Being realistic, they also skip Canada, though we're usually rated as the same and included in US sales numbers. Our largest group of sales is online, either ordering digitally or ordering physical goods online.  
--
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and it is always wrong."
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12. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 16:39 Beamer
 
Orogogus wrote on Jun 18, 2013, 14:51:
That's not his argument, or rather the argument of the post he liked:

"...that the numbers are US only, of course they are, last time I checked, the US where a big single territory for video games with some importance. Madden NFL simply doesn't sell outside the US, nonetheless it's a big title and Microsoft is currently preparing a console, by many considered as being US centric,, but I think Gamasutra won't skip reports about Madden or the Xbox One."

The US is a big territory, but not so big that the other territories are utterly negligible. Japan can float a ton of RPGs, and Europe can support their sports games without the US.

If you're positing that the games industry is in its death throes, as ASeven does all the time and is almost certainly doing here, and point to the 44% decline, then yes, you should take international and digital download numbers into account. Otherwise you're ignoring a sports franchise bigger than Madden because it doesn't move in the US.

It doesn't make sense for Sony to focus only on sales in Japan, and not being in the ad business, I don't see that it makes sense for us to focus on sales only in the US. People posting here aren't even the main demographic represented in those numbers, or else people would be kinder to Call of Duty and Angry Birds.

Also, several posters aren't in the US, so there's that as well, and I assume the same applies to Gamasutra's readership.

I'm not positing that the industry is in its death throws. I'm positing that NPD isn't worthless, despite only having a US and physical focus.

I don't care that several posters here aren't from the US. And Sony NA doesn't care, either. Because that doesn't make NPD irrelevant. It makes NPD only a piece of the puzzle, sure, but not irrelevant.

I will never understand why people are so quick to throw data away. Oh, I'm sorry, it doesn't cover your country? Well, there's a good chance someone else does. It would be nice to see that data as well, but, with no one submitting it to Blue, this is what we have.

Figure the rest of it out. Do people sit around on Rottentomatoes or BoxOfficeMojo complaining every week that it lists weekend box office results by US performance? No, because that would be stupid. Do they claim that the reporting agencies for US box office results are stupid and pointless because people are watching on DVD or pirating or live in China? No, because that would be stupid.

Instead they use US box office results as a data point. They also consider other data points, but they don't sit around on messageboards discussing how pointless data is. That it no longer gives unit sales is a huge setback, but that doesn't mean that the data is irrelevant. If you know how much the #4 seller sold, then you have an idea where the #1,#2 and #3 sold.
 
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http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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11. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 15:46 ^Drag0n^
 
NPD has been irrelevant for years now. Not even taking into account mobile platform digital downloads, the likes of Steam, Aplle's App store, GMG, XBL, Google Play, and the Playstation marketplace made it all but impossible to determine true volume sales, never mind market trends in terms of media of choice or platform-specific popularity/market share by dollars and through-sells of SKUs.

Basically, there is no way to really know how any particular publisher is doing, other than trying to apply data forensics to what little data they give the public.

This probably screws the developers more than anyone else, though. No way to prove unit sales in a public forum.
 
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10. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 15:04 Parallax Abstraction
 
theyarecomingforyou wrote on Jun 18, 2013, 13:24:
@ASeven - I don't see why you like that reply, as it completely misses the point. NPD's software report is dependent upon only the physical sales in the US. That means not only does it ignore Europe (which surpassed the US in video game sales more than five years ago) but also digital distribution, which makes up a significant portion of the market (if not the majority). As for the hardware numbers, of course they'll be reported as they're still accurate (at least a lot more so than the software numbers).

Software sales haven't declined by 44% since 2000 and the fact that NPD suggests that's the case demonstrates how hopelessly inaccurate it is.

ASeven has been toting this doom and gloom narrative for a while now, referencing things like the '83 crash while providing no evidence of his own and only pointing to this NPD report which was rendered all but irrelevant years ago. I've no idea why and obviously, to say the industry doesn't have some major problems right now is to ignore reality. But the degree to which he's insisting everything is collapsing right now is specious at best, especially considering software drops like this that are 1) in a month where there weren't many big new releases and 2) are this far into the end of a hardware generation and perfectly normal and expected. That software sales are down isn't as huge an issue as you might think if it's what the industry projected and planned around which by all accounts, is what's happening.

But some people get off on watching things fail. I can't wait to see what he says when the industry wakes up and realises that the mobile space so many are calling the saviour of gaming is even more hit driven than AAA and that if you aren't an outlier like Rovio, you have almost no chance of making real money in that space.

NPD has been a source of cheap, clicks-through-controversy stories for years now. I applaud Gamasutra for stepping up and having the balls to call it what it is: Useless as a barometer of industry health. This is the site that's run extensive charts on NPD before and regularly touts the whole "all gaming will be on tablets and social networks in 5 years" nonsense. Dropping NPD certainly doesn't do them any favours. Except you know, actually looking a bit more like actual journalists.
 
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9. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 14:51 Orogogus
 
That's not his argument, or rather the argument of the post he liked:

"...that the numbers are US only, of course they are, last time I checked, the US where a big single territory for video games with some importance. Madden NFL simply doesn't sell outside the US, nonetheless it's a big title and Microsoft is currently preparing a console, by many considered as being US centric,, but I think Gamasutra won't skip reports about Madden or the Xbox One."

The US is a big territory, but not so big that the other territories are utterly negligible. Japan can float a ton of RPGs, and Europe can support their sports games without the US.

If you're positing that the games industry is in its death throes, as ASeven does all the time and is almost certainly doing here, and point to the 44% decline, then yes, you should take international and digital download numbers into account. Otherwise you're ignoring a sports franchise bigger than Madden because it doesn't move in the US.

It doesn't make sense for Sony to focus only on sales in Japan, and not being in the ad business, I don't see that it makes sense for us to focus on sales only in the US. People posting here aren't even the main demographic represented in those numbers, or else people would be kinder to Call of Duty and Angry Birds.

Also, several posters aren't in the US, so there's that as well, and I assume the same applies to Gamasutra's readership.
 
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8. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 14:46 Cutter
 
Much like Nielsen it's been irrelevant for a while now.
 
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7. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 14:25 Beamer
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Jun 18, 2013, 14:18:
Not just ignoring Europe but also Asia....

Does this matter?
Typically, when discussing sales figures in a region, you discuss those specific region's numbers.

Sure, in some cases it's because that's what makes the most sense: Nielsen numbers include the US exclusively because those numbers are used to determine ad pricing, and ads are region specific.

But when discussing box office results we focus on the US, with international being just a point of interest. When discussing car sales it's generally US focused. Really, for any kind of product. In part because getting those numbers requires strong relationships that few companies can afford to build worldwide, in part because many regions don't track these things as well as others, and in part because people in one region tend to care most about what people in that same region are doing (e.g., unless you own the stock, you likely don't give a crap that Buick is an incredibly strong brand in China. You're unlikely to buy one in the US, or look positively on one, etc.)

The NPD, as pertains to US sales, is fine right now. For the PC? No. For consoles? Absolutely. Just like ASeven said.
 
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6. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 14:18 eRe4s3r
 
Not just ignoring Europe but also Asia....  
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5. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 14:14 avianflu
 
Another indication that digital sales are taking over the "choices" that game consumers have.

Heck you can buy a boxed game and all that is in the box is the steam code for the game.
 
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4. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 13:45 Orogogus
 
Ya, kind of a bizarre reply. The logic behind keeping hardware seems clear as day, unless there's some kind of digital download service for hardware that's throwing numbers out of whack.

As far as Europe goes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_video_game_franchises

FIFA narrowly edges out Madden for lifetime sales despite starting five years later, and Winning Eleven / Pro Evolution isn't far behind despite a 13 year gap. FIFA's also at or near the top of the Steam list all the time. Neither of these franchises sell in the US, therefore it must make sense to just throw out US data altogether and use EU only, right? Well, no.
 
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3. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 13:24 theyarecomingforyou
 
@ASeven - I don't see why you like that reply, as it completely misses the point. NPD's software report is dependent upon only the physical sales in the US. That means not only does it ignore Europe (which surpassed the US in video game sales more than five years ago) but also digital distribution, which makes up a significant portion of the market (if not the majority). As for the hardware numbers, of course they'll be reported as they're still accurate (at least a lot more so than the software numbers).

Software sales haven't declined by 44% since 2000 and the fact that NPD suggests that's the case demonstrates how hopelessly inaccurate it is.
 
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SteamID: theyarecomingforyou
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2. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 12:05 ASeven
 
I like this reply on their own page:

"I agree with William and Joe, skipping the NPD numbers, in the biggest crisis since 83 looks like the site thinks they doesn't want to bother their readers with reality and construct a fluffy bubble for them instead. This month retail software sales are down 44% to the lowest level since May 2000 and this I is the moment Gamasutra stops reporting the NPD numbers?

Nobody in the industry thinks that digital sales are as important for revenues right now, as retail sales are. At least not in the console space, that is the financial motor of the industry, regardless, if you like this part of the industry or don't.
It looks even more strange, that Gamasutra plans to continue using NPD hardware numbers, this looks like cherry picking and it leaves me with the question, if Gamasutra will skip these numbers too, if they don't look pleasant enough.

Besides I don't see why it should be a flaw, that the numbers are US only, of course they are, last time I checked, the US where a big single territory for video games with some importance. Madden NFL simply doesn't sell outside the US, nonetheless it's a big title and Microsoft is currently preparing a console, by many considered as being US centric,, but I think Gamasutra won't skip reports about Madden or the Xbox One. "
 
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1. Re: Op Ed Jun 18, 2013, 10:01 InBlack
 
Everyone should just fuck these losers and quit reporting their numbers.  
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I have a nifty blue line!
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