NPD's lack of digital sales tracking in its monthly report -- makes sense, since the company has seen increased revenue in the digital space. NPD, which changed its reporting practices late last year, doesn't track digital distribution channels including Steam, Xbox Live, PSN and the iTunes App store in the report we post every month, though the firm has created a separate report for just that. The accuracy and scope of this new report is unknown, since the press doesn't get to see it.
"Using NPD data for video game sales is like measuring music sales and ignoring something called iTunes," EA corporate communications exec Tiffany Steckler told CNN Money. "We see NPD's data as a misrepresentation of the entire industry." David Riley from the NPD countered in an email to the piece's author by saying EA's discrepancy is "being blown out of proportion."
With the increasing prevalence and revenue that comes from digital channels, EA certainly has a point, but it's not like it's NPD's choice -- the purveyors of these digital distribution platforms certainly aren't going to freely offer over all sales data. And for all of its hemming and hawing, the retail space is still one of the most crucial to a game's success and NPD is the industry standard for that information in North America.