US game charts will soon become less boring with NPD’s inclusion of digital figures

By Stephany Nunneley, Tuesday, 12 July 2016 15:32 GMT

It’s about time, really.

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Next Thursday, July 21, the NPD Group will finally start including digital sales figures for the US.

For years, the industry tracking firm only included physical sales of video games; however, as digital becomes the preferred method of purchase for many consumers, the inclusion is long overdue.

The firm told GI.biz it is now tracking revenue from full-game downloads through PlayStation Network, Steam and Xbox Live. Digital storefronts Uplay (Ubisoft) and Blizzard’s Battle.net aren’t included at this time, and not all publishers are on board just yet.

Publishers such as Activision, Capcom, Deep Silver, EA, Square Enix, Take-Two, Warner and Ubisoft are supporting the new Digital Games Tracking Service, but some first-party publishers such as Bethesda, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have yet to sign on. More will be added as the digital tracking service expands.

Next week when the NPD figures for the US are released, a notation will be included next to titles which do not include digital data. Otherwise, expect the main figure to include both physical and digital. Actual sales data, other than the game’s spot on the charts hasn’t been made available to the media or public by NPD for quite some time; however, it’s not hard to find the figures online thanks to some subs outing the data.

“The fact that we’re allowed to go out with something for the media is a huge step in the right direction,” said NPD communications boss David Riley. “I think as the service matures and as the publishers get used to it [we will] get more on board.

“I expect a good old slamming from the industry press because of the limitations here but what we don’t want to do is open ourselves up by separating it at this time. We’ve just opened the gates right now. Just as you’ve seen a withdrawal [of data] on the physical side – we used to give units – I’m hoping we can provide more over time.”

NPD will also track DLC, microtransactions and other add-on content. For now, these figures will only be available to industry participants.

“We’re waiting until [these figures] are little more fully baked for us to roll that out to the media,” said NPD analyst Liam Callahan. “We’re doing things in stages.”

The addition of digital content figures is something which has been in the works at NPD since 2011. Now, with the “beta testing” of its Digital Games Tracking Service completed, hopefully, the monthly US game charts will once again be worth a look.

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