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The NPD defends its relevance

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EA, echoing comments it made last year, believes that the NPD’s monthly sales figures are irrelevant and give a false representation of the gaming industry – providing  a mere “sliver of what’s actually happening in gaming.” the NPD, unsurprisingly, disagrees.

EA’s Frank Gibeau says the company doesn’t even use the data internally anymore; that its wholly irrelevant.

“They only see a little parts of it and they’re not looking at the total picture. Between Facebook, social, mobile, free to play on PC, Asia, consoles… ,” Gibeau affirms. “It’s a vibrant, growing, huge market. An occasional bad report from NPD, which measures a sliver of what’s actually happening in gaming gives people an erroneous impression.

NPD president David McQuillan has hit back, saying;

"While digital is a growing part of the industry and something that needs to be addressed for the future, the current games industry is still largely rooted in retail and any industry player involved with AAA content simply can’t take their eye away from the retail environment. Successful companies are looking at how their products are performing within all channels, particularly retail. For that reason, we were surprised to read the comments by Mr. Gibeau that EA does not look at NPD data internally at all.

“While we will not comment on the specifics on our long-standing relationship with EA, we can say with confidence that we have daily dealings with all of our major publisher clients. And we know for a fact they’re using the data."

He’s convinced Gibeau is telling porkies – and that any AAA publisher would see the value of NPD’s data.

"According to our latest estimates, new physical software represented 56 per cent of the consumer spend on games content in the US in 2011 and 70 per cent in Q4, specifically. If a publisher that produced AAA content were in a position where they could not access NPD data to analyse, review and benchmark against competition and the rest of the market, we would think they would be challenged to effectively manage an important part of their current business and their relationship with the retail community.

Right now, physical media does account for the lion’s share of sales – but there’s merit in Gibeau’s assessment that the NPD only tracks a shrinking section of the US market; it doesn’t, for example, give any insight in to the games sold through Valve’s ubiquitous Steam, EA’s Origin or indeed any of the digital distribution channels.

Last Updated: July 3, 2012

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