With next-generation consoles and a big chunk of AAA game releases happening this November it was only a matter of
A blind spot in terms of tracking game sales has always been digital. Publishers could be as vague as they wanted with digital sales since there was no real hard numbers for consumers to easily seek out.
That’s all changing now as as the NPD has made good on its 5 year promise and has begun tracking sales of digital software. Starting July 21st, the physical sales report will now be consolidated with digital sales data. According to NPD analyst Liam Callahan, this is thanks in part to support from major publishers such as Activision, EA, Capcom, Square Enix and more.
“This has been several years of beta testing and we’ve been doing this in partnership with publishers, shaping the product, encoding the data the way the industry wants to see it. It’s really at the behest of or on the behalf of the publishers that we’re moving forward with this announcement… Really the goal is to bring a new level of transparency never before seen, at least in the US market. This is really the first step. We recognize that there’s still a ways to go, we want more publishers to join, we want to be able to project for people who are not participating. It’s an evolution, it’s something that takes time and our philosophy was really to start – if we waited to have every publisher in the world to sign up it would take forever. We’ll be improving this as time goes on,”
It’s more than a little apparent that there are a few big names missing on the list of partnered companies, including all three first party developers. The NPD has stated however, that they will note which games are excluding digital sales on the report, which means it will be easy to see what data is still incomplete.
However while the NPD will track digital software sales and release information to the public, sales figures on DLC and microtransactions will be left to the participating companies’ discretion.
Still, this is a good move forward for the industry as a whole. Software sales have been leaning digitally for years now and there were only ever unreliable sources for seeing just how well a game performed. With more transparency like this it’ll be interesting to see whether larger companies like Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo will feel forced to comply, or stay as ambiguous as ever.