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What good is the console war if you can't compare numbers? It's about as useful as a defense lawyer cursed to always tell the truth. The numbers that speak about the progress of your favorite platform or game is how we determine who is winning the console war. One of the ways that's used to measure the console war is NPD but they have one major flaw: they don't track digital sales data.
According to GameIndustry.biz, the NPD Group, a firm that tracks retail sales data, will branch outside of their standard retail measuring and tracking practices and they will finally expand into the digital sales arena.
Quite naturally, retail sales have been on the decline and digital distribution have been expanding rapidly. With the NPD Group monthly reports only indicating that numbers in one market are steadily decline (though still very significant) it presents a lopsided view in the news that the gaming industry is dying (a pretty big misconception and one of the top misconceptions about the gaming industry). The reality is that other emerging markets are expanding and growing but the NPD isn't necessarily covering these areas of the market, which includes digital sales and distribution.
Many electronic industry groups, journalists and media outlets have called for more transparency and a better metric in which to report the sales numbers from the gaming industry that wasn't wholly limited to retail sales data, and after enough pressure, the NPD Group is complying.
They're starting a new POS tracking service – and no that doesn't mean what it obviously means to a lot of people (and there are a thousand jokes attached to that phrase) – the digital POS relates to digital point-of-sale data and David McQuillan, president of the Games group at NPD, mentioned to GI.biz that...
"We fully realize that the market needs the same level of information for the digital categories as exists for the physical business today: SKU-level POS. The progress on that effort up until recently has been slow and frustrating at times, but today I am very happy to share that the pace of progress has changed recently. NPD has formed a leader panel to track digital POS sales of full game and add-on content downloads.
According to the article, more than nine well known and recognized publishers have joined on to NPD's POS tracking service and will be part of the digital sales data roll-out to be included with the group's retail sales data as well.
The good news is that the digital sales tracking to be employed by the NPD Group will also include global digital sales, which should definitely open up discussions about game performance data that isn't limited to just North America and, at times, Europe, or the EMEA.
Given the global affiliation with market and sales data, this also opens up the NPD to work more closely with EEDAR, who back in 2009 predicted the decline of retail, which means we could see more important sales figures such as those from PriceWaterHouseCooper that revealed that the mobile gaming market isn't cannibalizing console gaming the way some have claimed.
McQuillan further stated that...
Our belief is that a valuable and relevant games service for publishers, developers, device manufacturers and content distributors will require several elements: a variety of sources, an increasingly global scope, and industry expertise. Consumer survey research and POS will always have value. The complement of data from other sources like our mobile meter, as well as other capabilities, will help to round out the story,"
The NPD Group's digital measuring stick is still in the proof-of-concept stage, but they estimate that it will be ready in time to gauge and report on the sales metrics for the next-generation launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One home media entertainment devices this fall.
It looks like fanboys will have some added arsenal for the console war this time around.
(Main image courtesy of OneLargePrawn.co.za)