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EA, Activision Upset That NPD Doesn't Count Digital Data

Many often gauge industry success on the statistics offered by the NPD, but the two biggest video game publishers disagree with that assessment.

The NPD has recently altered its reporting practices and both Electronic Arts and Activision now claim the group's portrayal of the industry is "misleading and potentially irrelevant." EA has called out the lack of digital sales tracking in the NPD reports; the group doesn't count digital distribution channels like PSN, Xbox Live, and Steam. They do have a separate report for this category but it doesn't impact the overall findings and besides, the public - including the press - never gets to see it. Said EA corporate communications executive Tiffany Steckler:

"Using NPD data for video game sales is like measuring music sales and ignoring something called iTunes. We see NPD's data as a misrepresentation of the entire industry."

NPD representative David Riley responded by saying Steckler was blowing things out of proportion, although we have to admit that the lack of a digital impact is a serious flaw. Digital distribution has become a major aspect of the industry over the past couple of years, and to discount it when painting a financial picture of the video game business is indeed a little "misleading."

On the other hand, the regular retail space for games remains the most telling aspect of the industry. That hasn't changed just yet. As for Activision, let's not forget about titles like World of Warcraft; the publisher says the "growth part" of their business is largely non-retail sales. So who's right?

Tags: ea, electronic arts, npd, npd sales, games industry

3/15/2011 9:50:41 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (20 posts)

Excelsior1
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 11:06:07 AM
Reply

i really don't see a problem here. the sales are counted, and they have the numbers. they are just worried becuase the public didn't buy into their digital distribution is the future bs.

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kraygen
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 11:29:10 AM
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NPD doesn't take a lot into consideration so at best they are a guide. They only account for the U.S. sales, don't do digital, can't count used sales, who know what all they are missing.

I have friends who buy every game possible off of steam. The only way they buy it elsewhere is if it will never be on steam, like ps3 exclusives.

I think EA and Activision are right about the NPD sales being nearly pointless, but like I said, could still work for a rough guide as to U.S. sales.

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maxpontiac
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 12:16:50 PM
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I still don't understand why NPD's figures are held in such high regard.

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Excelsior1
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 12:56:46 PM

it's the industry that holds them in high regard. who else is there tracking game sales? vg chartz is the only other i can think of. i guess they are kind of like the neilsen ratings for tv. ofcourse, i'm speaking of the us market. according to wiki, the npd does track digital sales. the public just doesn't see the reports which is what ea, and activision are crying about. ea, and activision know the numbers.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 4:39:13 PM

Because they routinely give Xbots the numbers they need to rub in PS3 owners faces? haha We know that the PS3 fairs far better across the globe than NPD numbers will have us believe.

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main_event05
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 12:25:26 PM
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main_event05, Others Upset that EA, Activision Keep Making Craptacular Games.

Last edited by main_event05 on 3/15/2011 12:25:45 PM

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slugga_status
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 12:38:10 PM
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It really depends. If they're talking about games that you must buy off PSN, LIVE, etc. then I think they have a point.

If they're talking about digital distribution that includes DLC then I think they're crazy. Being that both companies put out crap DLC or DLC that should be included in the game but you have to pay for..smh..

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Alienange
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 12:51:15 PM
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Maybe they wouldn't complain so much if NPD's numbers reports didn't cost so much?

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Geobaldi
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 12:53:30 PM
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Considering that PC developers earn a gross margin of around 70% on Steam, compared with 30% via retail stores according to Forbes, it would make sense to include digital sales as well. I would be curious to know just how successful PSN and XBL really are also, since I've bought a good deal of stuff on PSN as well. Super Meat Boy, for example, sold more in it's first two weeks on Steam than all the total sales on XBL by that time, though I haven't found retail numbers for that one yet. World of Warcraft is sold digitally as well, and has sold pretty well. I know the Wal-Mart here has shrunk it's game sections compared to what they used to be. I would like to know just how retail and digital sales compare to each other as it stands right now.

Also pretty sad to find out that the main game of Batman Arkham City will only last about 8 hours, not counting side quests of course.

Last edited by Geobaldi on 3/15/2011 12:56:50 PM

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 1:11:47 PM
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I'd like to see digital sales, just as a point of comparison as I still believe that retail sales are far more telling. BUT, I also believe that figures for digital sales would be horribly skewed as, because they usually don't cost as much as retail games, they're easier for the average user to pick up. Take a look at Angry Birds for example. One of the guys at Rovio came out and said that consoles are dying, basing his guess on the fact that the game has been downloaded over 100 million times. Crap. It's a dollar download that people will use to burn a couple of minutes. It's not comparable.
Peace.

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OxyFenix
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 1:12:40 PM
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I would be upset too if they weren't counting sales on Amazon, buy.com and all the other retailers that have a online component. A lot of people are starting to buy more of their stuff online because it's cheaper or they don't pay taxes.

Plus these companies are starting to create more digital content because that's where the money is.

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main_event05
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 8:26:51 PM

you avatar is so misleading. for a second I thought legendarywolf was back

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DjEezzy
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 2:13:12 PM
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I'm sorry but EA doesn't put out craptacular games. No offense. I wouldn't call ME, ME2, DA:O, DA II, DS, DS2, BFBC2, Fight Night Champions or FIFA 11 crap. All of the games mentioned are pretty great actually.

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slugga_status
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 2:49:54 PM

It's not the games it's the BS they call DLC they want you to buy..

BTW..Fight Night Champion is a massive let down..It's been turned into a simplistic button masher...

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DjEezzy
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 4:26:21 PM
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not if you use the analog stick. why would you want to use bottons to throw punches anyway?


Last edited by DjEezzy on 3/15/2011 4:26:57 PM

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slugga_status
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 @ 7:41:43 AM

I don't use the buttons..I said that's what they turned the game into

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___________
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 @ 4:05:48 AM
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oh suck a dummy!
who cares?
there only suppose to be rough numbers, not 100% accurate!
DL numbers are not counted because there so small, due to their price, and internet restrictions.
not to mention allot of the times retail games have pre order bonuses, but online stores have no such things.

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Geobaldi
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 @ 6:29:13 AM

Console digital pre-orders may not have much in the way of extra incentives added, but many PC pre-orders do. Steam almost always has some type of pre-order bonus for it's big releases. Either in game items, or free games for just a few examples. Yesterday's releases on PC, Homefront had free copies of Metro 2033 included. Shogun 2 has a bunch of in game stuff for Team Fortress 2, though Shogun also had 4 different retail collector's bundles also. And Steam isn't the only one to do it.

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___________
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 @ 9:22:38 AM

exception to the rule.
steam does not help itself by being more expensive then retail!
found heaps of games from EB a good 10+ bucks cheaper then steam.
and thats EB, go to GAME or JB and you will probably find them another 20 bucks cheaper!
i thought the whole idea of downloading games was to save money, not spend it!

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Geobaldi
Thursday, March 17, 2011 @ 9:11:34 AM

After going through the transactions of all 438 games in my Steam account, only 37 of them were for retail price or slightly higher than retail. All the others were on average $5-10 cheaper due to pre-order discounts. Then there's the countless sales that go as far down as 90% off during the really big seasonal sales. So to say that they charge more for their games is not accurate. Or course, the Call of Duty and other EA and Activision games are exceptions. Those things take months to drop in price just like the console versions.

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