Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
15 June 2007
NPD analysis at Gamasutra
Recently the editor of Gamasutra asked me if I was up for some analysis work, and we worked out an opportunity for me to do some Friday morning comments on the monthly NPD data releases. The first such piece is up this morning. You can drop your usual insults and criticisms into the comments below.

In addition to the link, I want to raise two points that came to me while I was doing the legwork these past couple of days:
  • If you don't pay for the NPD reports (expensive), getting all the information in one centralized location is a real chore. While you can get some stuff from places like NeoGAF, a lot of the stuff I wanted was written out in sentences, not tables. So I spent hours extracting numbers from articles, putting them into a spreasheet, and in many cases deducing the numbers which were not said.

    To elaborate: If NPD reports total sales, hardware (console and handheld combined) sales, console software sales, and accessory sales then you can deduce portable software sales by subtracting hardware, accessory, and console software from the total. If you have numbers for one segment of the market for two out of three months in a quarter and also the quarterly totals, you can deduce the missing month's segment numbers. And then using the growth percentages, you can compute numbers for all categories for the previous year.

    Then there are the top software sales lists. Lately NPD is reporting top 10 software titles with sales numbers, and later in the month you can get a top 20 list, but without numbers on places 11-20. If you're lucky there will be one or two numbers for spots 11-20 mentioned in the text of an article somewhere, which gives you a bit more data for the scale of the sales for places 11-20.

    Which is all to say, I'm finally in a position where I think I've got this data under control and can fill in holes and add new data as it becomes available. Perhaps I'll make periodic dumps in CVS, ODS, and XLS format here, so stay tuned.

  • While I was looking at present and upcoming software releases, I began to wonder if Tomb Raider Anniversary will appear on the PC sales charts for June. As we've covered before, the sales are not only in brick-and-mortar stores but also on GameTap and Steam. I consider it possible (although I don't know yet how probable) that TRA will miss the sales charts because (I believe) NPD doesn't count sales of the game through online distribution.

    But the point is more general than just Tomb Raider -- as the relationship between online distribution and brick-and-mortar stores changes, a company like NPD that measures sales in brick-and-mortar stores will have to adapt. Certainly the hardware figures will continue to be interesting, but the software numbers may lose some of their meaning.

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--Matt Matthews at 10:45
Comment [ 6 ]

Comments on this post:

Given that NPD doesn't even poll most of the brick and mortar chains (IIRC they don't include sales from Walmart, Target, etc, which make up the vast majority of game sales), I would say that it's pretty much a certainty that they aren't counting steam.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 15 June, 2007 12:50  

To clarify, did you write that piece at Gamasutra?

Becuase in particular, I think that the chart labeled "non-Wii hardware sales decline" is pretty misleading. Unless there are supply problems, you're typically going to see a decline in hardware sales during the early part of the year leading into the even sparser summer months because game releases (which along with the gifting season are the primary drivers of console sales) cluster in the fall.

Suggesting that Wii sales (which have been flat due to supply constraints) are somehow cannibalizing sales of the PS2, PS3 and 360 isn't a conclusion that I think is supportable from the existing data.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 15 June, 2007 13:02  

Who drew the conclusion that Wii sales are cannibalizing sales of other systems? Not I. I said Wii sales are great. The others are declining. I don't recall implying a causal relationship between the two.

By Blogger jvm, at 15 June, 2007 16:29  

... the venerable PlayStation 2 may finally be ending its time in the market. The last time Sony's PlayStation 2 sold around 188,000 units, as it did during May 2007, was in April 2004 when it sold only 189,000 systems.

It's beating sales of all other platforms, continues to solidify installed user base for Sony, and they're going to stop? I bet it might even clock a small profit per unit now... ??

Just to make clear how the success of the Nintendo DS is likely tied to the sleeker hardware...

Not to mention that its capabilities are *exactly* the same as the phat, aside from a slightly different sized slot for Opera's mem expansion, apparently.

Did the negative reviews actually affect sales?

Ha. Hahahaha. Cuz that's always worked in the past, right? A bit of a jump there, I think. Worst (but probably only) so far.

I do somewhat agree that though you didn't say the Wii was cannabalizing, you might have included its bar in the graph as a sort of benchmark/control. Leaving it out seemed to highlight its success (and a possible Nintendo) bias to me. Let the numbers do the talking, etc. Name the graph "Console Sale Numbers for Time Period X". A little biased [a very little] as is.

By Blogger rufbo, at 15 June, 2007 21:35  

Ok, I'll keep these in mind as I consider material for the June NPD report.

By Blogger jvm, at 16 June, 2007 01:53  

It always seemed to me the NPD was playing the same game as Nielsen. They want the numbers to be inaccurate. Nielsen wants the TV numbers too look a certain way because their customers use those numbers to set TV advertising rates.

With that said the Wii is selling and the next generation systems during this time period are not. NPD is capturing that end of the market just fine. I have no doubt Wal-mart or Target would not shift the numbers much for 360 or PS3, but I wonder if Wal-mart customers are shifting a good deal more PS2 units. That is where NPD not counting all the big box stores are failing to capture the real marketplace.

By Anonymous Monkey-King, at 16 June, 2007 16:13  

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