In a statement released to the press, The NPD Group have announced that they are finally going to begin providing digital sales information in their monthly reports.
Utilizing their new digital point-of-sale (POS) sourced service, NPD's Digital Game Tracking Services will track participant-contributed SKU-level sales data on full-game and add-on content downloads for consoles, portables, and PC Games. NPD claims their service is "the first service to provide the U.S. gaming industry with publisher-sourced data on digital game sales, aggregated from the participants of a Digital Panel that includes leading publishers in the industry."
President of the U.S. Toys & Games division at The NPD Group, Joanne Hageman, had this to say regarding the announcement:
As has been experienced across a wide variety of industries, digital has made a big impact on the overall gaming market, and we’ve risen to meet the demand for a reporting mechanism that tracks those sales in a timely and accurate way. With the participation and support of leading publishers – whose cooperation makes this possible – we are excited to launch an industry-first service that addresses a long-standing need.
With a more complete picture, participants are able to make better business decisions with a broader set of data.
While notable companies like Valve (Steam), Sony (PlayStation), Microsoft (Xbox), and publisher, Bethesda have yet to show support, the service will still be able to provide a good look at the 3rd-party digital landscape by providing data from companies like EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Capcom, Square Enix, Take-Two, Deep Silver and Warner Bros. NPD expects more publishers would be signing on as the service evolves.
Interestingly, the data that will be provided to the media going forward will have both physical and digital sales number grouped together, with notations by games on the charts that do not include digital data. In speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, NPD Communications Chief David Riley had this to say:
This is a closed service, the detailed data is only available to participants so if you're a non-participating publisher you cannot see the data. The fact that we're allowed to go out with something for the media is a huge step in the right direction. I think as the service matures and as the publishers get used to it and we get more on board, we have more history, we do some benchmarking, we can provide that, but what we wanted to do for multiple reasons, including appeasing the publishers was to combine full-game physical with full-game digital, keep away from the DLC, keep PC games separate because that's a whole different ball of wax. It's not comprehensive, but it's the most comprehensive, we're the first in the market to track this and we're very cautious.
I expect a good old slamming from the industry press because of the limitations here but what we don't want to do is open ourselves up by separating it at this time. We've just opened the gates right now. Just as you've seen a withdrawal [of data] on the physical side - we used to give units - I'm hoping we can provide more over time.
As of yet there is no word on when The NPD Group will begin reporting on global digital sales, however in a previous discussion with GamesIndustry.biz, NPD analyst Liam Callahan hinted at it by stating, "US is our core competency... our vision is to expand this as much as we can in a way that makes sense for our partners. If that's global that may be what we pursue. But we also want to do the best job that we can in projecting for the market and recruiting as many publishers as we can."
Source: NPD, GamesIndustry.biz