Home Gaming Unless sales charts include digital sales data, they’re irrelevant

Unless sales charts include digital sales data, they’re irrelevant

2 min read


I love the monthly sales charts we get from places like Europe’s GfK Chart-Track, The US’s NPD and Japan’s Media Create. I love seeing what games people are buying – but there’s very definitely something wrong with their data. Notable, as we’ve pointed out before, they fail to include digital distribution numbers – and with the way the industry is right now, people are spending more and more of their hard earned money by buying their games through digital stores.

In fact, as happened recently, the retail charts suggested that it was not LEGO Jurassic World that topped the UK video game sales as reported two weeks ago – but rather Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture; a game you couldn’t buy in stores. Being the top selling game or whatever accolade it ends up being is great PR stuff for the companies involved. Couple that with the invaluable market research that these charts provide, and it all starts to seem a shame that they’re becoming irrelevant.

GfK wants to fix that by including digital data – but it’s not quite that easy, mostly because publishers are still, for whatever reason, obfuscating digital sales.

“The controversy and speculation that a certain game would have topped the charts if digital sales were included highlights the need to address the issue of the supply of digital sales towards the industry’s charts and research data,” said GfK Chart-Track’s business group director Dorian Bloch.

“We’re ready to include digital sales, either alongside physical sales or separately, but the ball is in the industry’s court to recognise the need for measuring the complete market and supply their data.

“With a critical mass of digital retailers we could reveal as little or as much as the players in the market feel comfortable sharing.

“There are issues, such as how local this combination of physical and digital can be and whether various companies are interested in digital supply or prefer anonymity, or even whether publishers truly want Steam, PSN, Xbox Live and so on, included in their UK totals.

“The current UK game research project has been in existence for decades and perhaps because of this, it’s somewhat taken for granted that market intelligence of the packaged goods market is so accurate, so meaningful and therefore so useful. But with the growth of the digital sector the industry risks losing its best research and PR tool – a chart that paints a true picture of the overall games market.”

It’s this sort of irrelevance that’s causing UK trade mag MCV to drop its games charts for the first time in 17 years.

Last Updated: August 27, 2015


  1. Pieter Kruger

    August 27, 2015 at 16:44

    Could explain the PS4’s low attach rate and why UK charts often show some 3rd party games on Xbox One outselling same game on PS4 (especially in Europe where Sony claims a 75% market share!)


    • Ryanza

      August 27, 2015 at 17:03

      You need to mention the games or type of games you are referring to.

      I would blame Call of Duty where you find people will happily buy a PS4 and only play but one or two games, second game being Fifa.

      Third person, story driven games, does well in Europe. First person shooters tends not to do so well in Europe and the East.
      Where-as on Xbox, first person shooters do well.

      But I see your troll post. So PS4 is out selling the Xbox One so much that if you just buy 1 game for the Xbox One, Call of Duty, the attachment rate will be much higher because there aren’t so many consoles out there compared to the PS4 which needs lots of games to make a good attachment rate.


      • Pieter Kruger

        August 27, 2015 at 17:29

        Elder Scrolls Online?


        • Ryanza

          August 27, 2015 at 17:42

          First off Elder Scrolls is a very popular series, that is why it’s selling.

          Now what do we know about that Xbox One and PS4.
          When you buy an Xbox One console and get home, the first thing you have to do is plug it into the internet and download a patch to get it to play video games.
          With the PS4 after buying the console and getting home, you don’t have to connect it to the internet to play the games.

          If the PS4 needed the internet, right after buying it, to play the games, then we can assume that PS4 sales would be closer to Xbox One sales.

          We can assume that everyone who has bought the Xbox One has internet because they needed it to get the damn thing to work.
          So everyone who bought an Xbox one can buy an online only game.
          Not everyone can buy online only games for the PS4.

          That could be a reason why Elder Scrolls Online is selling more on Xbox One than on PS4. Or the European PS4 games know that the game is shit and just won’t buy it.

          Now when they release the next Elder Scrolls single player game that isn’t an online only game, I would expect it to sell more copies on PS4.


  2. Ryanza

    August 27, 2015 at 16:48

    How much Batman Arkham Knight with it’s two form DRM sell for PC?

    And The Witcher 3 with no DRM selling over 2 million copies for PC.

    Don’t Support DRM. Cyberpunk 2077 is coming.


  3. Viking Of Science

    August 28, 2015 at 07:32


    If they include Digital Sales figures, Publishers have to admit that PC is doing well, and if they admit that, They’ll get even more flak for their shitty Port Jobs.


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