"The digital side of the industry is not being adequately reported, understood or covered. I think we've seen the consequences of that over the last two years," said Gallagher, concerned that NPD's monthly retail assessments don't give a full or accurate picture of the industry. He noted the retail side of the industry has flattened, particularly at the end of this current console cycle, while digital distribution has grown. NPD's standard of consistent monthly retail reporting, which it has provided less and less detailed public data on over the years, coupled with quarterly supplementals on digital distribution, isn't giving an accurate picture of the industry's current health.
"Here's the aspiration: there are other industries that do this well and they enjoy the upside and downside of truthful numbers," said Gallagher. "I think the industry is better off if there's a standardized reporting mechanism that is seen as whole, and complete and truthful."
The complication in Gallagher's wish is the closed digital distribution platforms of Valve's Steam, along with the PlayStation, Wii and Xbox marketplaces. To get an accurate picture of digital distribution revenue in this industry, it would require all these platform holders to openly share their sales data. And, perhaps, that's a dream for another console generation.