The NPD Group has announced that they will finally incorporate digital sales into their monthly sales data charts.
Currently, the NPD only tabulates data from sales of physical copies into their data: games sold through PSN, Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, etc. are not counted towards the company’s monthly Top 10. Since sales of digital games are rising and most games are now released as digital downloads on the same day as their physical release, the NPD’s lack of digital tracking has led to some skewed results. For instance, almost a third of Fire Emblem Awakening’s launch sales came from the 3DS e-Shop.
The NPD will now create a special category for digital game sales. In addition to tracking the sale of traditional games, the NPD will now track the money being earned on paid DLC, mobile, and social games. NPD group president David McQuillian says that they should start tracking digital purchases before the launch of the next-gen consoles this Fall. “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,” McQuillan said. “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. It is an important and critical step toward that goal.”
The “leader panel” that McQuillian mentions is made up of nine publishers who have agreed to share their digital sales info with the NPD. The NPD has yet to reveal who those publishers are, or which distribution services they represent.