Skip to main content

CB Games Interview: VG Chartz Speaks Out

What video game news website hasn’t tossed numerical facts around regarding the success (or failure) of a console, or software? But just because the numbers are let loose in a news story, doesn’t always mean that everyone who reads the story will believe that said numbers are true. In fact, the statistical tracking website for gaming, VG Chartz, has come under some scrutiny by gamers, and you know us here at CB Games, we quickly decided to toss a few questions their way to see what the fuss is all about.

CBG Will: Just so our readers know who we’re talking to, could you toss in a name and position?

Brett: Well my name is Brett and I am basically the owner and creator of VG Chartz.

CBG Will: So Brett, what has been the toughest part about running the site: Dealing with people who claim the stats are inaccurate or actually trying to maintain accurate stats?

Brett: Well, obviously maintaining accurate stats is where the vast majority of my time goes, I hope that if the figures are good enough then they will sell themselves. Having said that it does knock you back a bit when you work hard to collect and put together figures that are as accurate as realistically possible and do it to offer a service for the gaming community and then people try to knock it down by nitpicking and trying to find the occasional error or mistake. Considering the site is essentially run by one person (who also has a full time job and fiancée) and is offered to people for free then I think many have expectations which are far too high. I do my best with the information I have but of course it is not perfect.

CBG Will: Have you received more positive feedback or negative feedback, regarding the operation of VG Chartz?

Brett: I have received far more positive feedback than negative, this is what keeps my interest high in the site and motivates me to keep it going and try to expand it further. As well as the sales which are obviously my responsibility, I have fantastic support from a great group of people who contribute to different areas of the site from forum moderation, to news articles, entering game information and much more. VG Chartz is growing at an amazing rate and that wouldn’t be possible without the support of the people who visit the site and the team who help me to run it.

CBG Rich: My question is regarding how you tabulate the online sales. Are these percentages you have on the site for both store bought products AND online?

CBG: Andy: Yeah, I want to know how you can be sure you're getting all the information instead of just the mega-retailers?

Brett: The figures on VG Chartz represent the entire market. I obviously don’t collect data for 100% of the market, but with the help of a few others behind the scenes we collect a sample of data and use scaling factors derived from analyzing historical data and estimating the extent and bias of our market coverage to arrive at our final figures. So yes, we do aim to include online sales as well, although we currently don’t track them directly (although this is likely to change in the future…)

CBG Rich: And what about the eBay factor? Are those tabulated as well?

Brett: eBay sales aren’t counted directly. As with the previous answer we estimate total sales for the market so will estimate for power sellers etc on eBay who sell from new; second hand sales are not allowed for, as you’d expect.

CBG Rich: Oh, and is the PS3 REALLY doing that terribly? Yeesh.

Brett: Yeah, PS3 does seem to be struggling. I think the combination of a high price point and a lack of any real killer games at this point is really hurting Sony. I expect the situation to get better when the price falls.

CBG Brian: Seeing as how you've described yourself as a fan site, after NPD started getting involved...I'm curious what motivated you to start the site in the first place?

Brett: Personal interest. I’m a bit of a numbers geek and started putting together my own spreadsheets of sales about 10 years ago. I’ve always been most interested in doing side-by-side comparisons for games or hardware, see which takes the lead and whether the other can catch it. This is the most significant area for development on the site – I want to create a suite of tools which allows users to make all manner of comparisons and predictions.

CBG Brian: Do you think VG Chartz will ever be more accurate than NPD?

CBG Andy: ...And, what type of safe guards are in place to be sure the numbers are correct, because having incorrect numbers could influence a lot of things in the wrong ways?

Brett: NPD are a professional multi-million dollar data firm. They collect data from most major retailers and provide a very high-level service to their clients who pay a lot for their info, VG Chartz is doing things on a much smaller and less professional scale so as of now, there is no comparison in terms of “accuracy”. We have been approached by a number of potential partners with the view of maybe taking things to another level and if this were to happen we could surely approach a similar accuracy level, but this is all very speculative at this stage.

CBG Brian: And one last question, what system do you predict to sell the most units, overall, by 2010?

Brett: It’s a tough call. I think Wii by virtue of the lead it will build up in 2007 / 2008 although I expect the other two to be ahead in 2009 /2010 as prices drop and more games are out but probably not enough to catch up overall. Whatever happens it is going to be the most interesting console battle in years…