NPD forms 9-publisher panel to gather, report digital storefront data

NPD moves towards digital sales tracking
The NPD Group, responsible for compiling and releasing monthly sales data of the gaming industry in North America, is attempting to address a hole in its retail-skewed data: digital point-of-sale information.

NPD plans to change its methods to include these digital POS figures, and change them "quickly," Games President David McQuillan tells Games Industry. McQuillan wants to prepare for the new consoles hitting shelves this holiday.

"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," he says. "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."

The leader panel includes nine "leading games publishers," and it will first focus on full-game downloads and DLC for PC, consoles and mobile devices. The program is in beta now, and NPD is partnering with research company EEDAR to track digital POS numbers worldwide –not only in North America as its current system does.

Eventually the digital results will make their way into NPD's monthly reports, but there's no word on when that will happen. "Once we move past the beta or proof of concept phase, subscribers will have access to the full data set, which you would expect of any service," McQuillan says. "The level of information to be shared publicly has not been determined at this time."

Since 2010, NPD has tracked downloads of full games and add-on content, subscriptions, mobile games and social games, but it leaves out numbers from digital stores such as Steam, Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Network in its monthly reports. The importance of these marketplaces continues to grow over the years, and last month the ESA called the NPD reports a "disservice to the truth." In 2011, EA called NPD's data "a misrepresentation of the entire industry."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.