NPD's monthly gaming reports will soon include sales of digital content, according to a story published today.
"The goal is to provide our clients with a total point-of-sale games tracking service that incorporates the growing digital channel as well as the currently predominant physical format, and to deliver this at the same frequency as we currently do for new physical retail sales (monthly)," NPD's Anita Frazier told GamesIndustry.biz in an interview.
NPD is considered the definitive source on game sales. The company reports the top sellers in gaming hardware, software, and accessories each month. However, in addition to digital game sales, NPD also leaves out hardware and software unit sales figures from its public reports. In October, the company said that its decision to offer those figures only to clients and not the public is because of the "changing sales landscape" in the gaming industry, namely the growing shift to digital content.
Currently, NPD offers digital game sales data on a quarterly basis. By leaving that data out of its monthly reports, Frazier told GamesIndustry.biz, her company is potentially leaving out 40 percent of all sales each month.
It's that reality that has the gaming business up in arms over NPD sales data.
In a interview with CNN earlier this week, EA corporate communications executive Tiffany Steckler took aim at NPD's monthly sales data, saying that the firm's reports can be likened to "measuring music sales and ignoring something called iTunes." She went on to say that NPD's monthly data is "a misrepresentation of the entire industry."
Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick offered further proof of that last year in an interview with Bloomberg Television. He said that digital sales were "less than 15 percent" of his company's revenue, but he expected that figure to grow to up to 40 percent in just a few short years.
Even the NPD Group has provided evidence that leaving digital sales out of monthly sales reports might be doing more harm than good. In September, the company revealed that 11.2 million digital PC games were bought online during the first six months of 2010. During the same period, 8.2 million PC titles were bought at retail.
It's not just PC gaming. The Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and PlayStation 3 all offer digital game downloads. Boutique game retailer GameStop is even involved in digital sales, offering games, upgrades, and much more from its Web site.
The NPD Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.