The ESA says NPD sales figures are misleading

2 min read


We’ve said before that retail sales numbers for video games, from the likes of GfK, NPD and Media create are largely worthless, and are increasingly becoming irrelevant – for anyone other than retailers and those who make a living selling physical copies of games.

They paint a poor picture of the video game industry, showing that software sales are on a perpetual decline, and that the industry in general is in poor health. What they don’t show in any way is the prevalence of digital distribution and how many copies of games were sold on storefronts like Steam, The PlayStation Store and the Xbox Store.

That’s very much in line with what Superdata keeps telling us, and now, the ESA’s had their say too. In a new statement, The Electronic Software Foundation has slammed the NPD.

“Scores of millions of consumers purchase innovative content in myriad ways, including subscription services, digital downloads, and via their mobile devices. Gone are the days when the industry’s growth and strength could be determined by retailers simply reporting packaged good sales.

Unfortunately, NPD’s revenue data yesterday continued to reinforce that traditional model at the expense of new areas where the industry is growing. Consumers, the creators and innovators of our industry, and the investment community deserve better. ESA will do its part by encouraging and motivating NPD to release the total consumer spend for 2015 that includes all aspects of this diverse industry.”

I know I’ve started buying fewer and fewer games at retail (unless they’re priced really, really well) and it largely comes down to convenience; I’m a lazy bugger, so I hate having to get up to change discs. If we could buy digital game cards locally for decent prices, and this still support the retail industry, I’d happily do that.

Have your own purchasing habits changed? Are you more likely to buy digitally – or do you still prefer buying physical copies of games, for their trade and resale value?

Last Updated: January 18, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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