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UKIE: Digital chart can work without Steam

Organisation explains why the UK download chart will be important, with or without Valve

With UKIE launching its new digital chart next month, questions have been asked about just how the data will be collected, who is involved and, most importantly for some, can it work without Steam?

"I would love every company to be involved in the project. Are we going to get every company? Probably not," UKIE's Sam Collins told GamesIndustry.biz.

He explained that while UKIE would be happy to get access to Steam's figures, it can collect the data it needs straight from the individual UK publishers, with out without Valve's help.

"Their main business is as a distributor," he said.

"We are getting data that publishers and developers and IP owners themselves have. So if you're a publisher or developer selling on Steam, those publishers and developers are giving us those sale figures. So they're coming directly from the intellectual property owner and not from Steam."

Steam's main business is as a distributor. Our figures are coming directly from the intellectual property owner and not from Steam.

Sam Collins, UKIE

A number of digital retail platforms are already involved, including Get Games, GEM, Green Man Gaming and at least one more major digital distribution platform that is yet to be announced.

"I'll be very firm on this point. It's absolutely beneficial for the UK games industry to have hard stats that have been validated and submitted to market by a third party organisation," added Paul Howes, commercial director of Green Man Gaming.

"If you are a small developer or a small publisher and you are looking to grow what you are planning to do, your games inventory, and in order to power that you're looking for third-party investment, you need to have hard figures. Right now, on a digital distribution perspective, we don't have any hard figures."

"UKIE has been working very hard on a digital chart and it is absolutely the right thing for the games industry to do and in particular to do for the UK to do."

Howes also seemed unconcerned by Steam's self imposed exclusion, saying it will only affect Valve published titles.

"There are two ways in which an organisation gets involved in the digital charts. One is the digital retailer submits the numbers for the company, and they other is the publisher submits them directly. UKIE will obviously reconcile between the two and make sure they're not doubled counted."

Collins is similarly philosophical about big companies like Activision, who publish digital titles like World Of Warcraft but, at the moment, are not part of the digital collective participating in the charts.

"Imagine you're a big company out there not putting data in, the first couple of charts come out and you're not in there? You may well feel, and will hopefully feel, that you're missing out and therefore you'll want to join in."

And companies that haven't been contacted shouldn't feel snubbed, added Collins, at the moment its limiting the amount of data in order to put the right systems in place.

"Because I'm doing a beta trial I need to be able to manage the amount of data I've got at the moment. It's logical for us to start with the people that we know, that we deal with day in, day out and that are already putting data in our box chart."

A lot of people said this project would never happen. We're saying it can happen, but it has to have the input of people to make it a success.

Sam Collins, UKIE

There are 25 companies currently included in the data set, and all have signed NDAs. One of the important things that will differentiate the UKIE digital chart from others is that companies that submit data will also be able to access data from other contributors. The NDAs stop companies leaking each other's results.

"For individual companies imagine a situation where you're to work out what sort of products you should be bringing out in the future, you want to do some benchmarking and understand what's going on in the market, you don't have reliable data at the moment to use. So we're going to try and get that for you."

Anyone can submit data to UKIE, which is aiming for the digital chart to become as important as its boxed chart, which currently covers about 92 per cent of the market. And the more of the more of the UK industry that signs up, the better that chart will be.

"This is a trial beta, by no means the finished article. What we put out for our first chart, six months down the road will look totally different and a year down the road will look even far greater removed from what we have in the first instance," promised Collins.

"A lot of people said this project would never happen. We're saying it can happen, but it has to have the input of people to make it a success. This is what we've got at the moment, come and play, come and participate, and the more that we get in the better it is for everybody."

The first chart will launch in February, and feature UK download figures from Disney, Ubisoft, Sega, Square Enix, NCsoft and Warners.

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Latest comments (12)

Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster4 years ago
Forgive my ignorance, but why on earth do digital distribution services not publish sales figures? Especially for those wanting to express the health of the PC gaming industry?
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
I still think that this is attempting the impossible. Digital is just too global for starters. And the distribution channel is impossible to monitor unless you are GCHQ. There are going to be vast anomalies. And vast potential for manipulation.
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 4 years ago
Looking forward to seeing some of these figures. Will make for interesting reading, especially considering factors such as SEGA having a title in the iOS 12 Days of Christmas.

Another interesting fact would be whether digital downloads includes what are technically classed as rentals by services such as OnLive. I've seen an awful lot of people playing Saints Row 3 and Batman on there...
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Show all comments (12)
Terence Gage Freelance writer 4 years ago
I think it'll make for interesting reading, but I think any figures which don't come from Steam or Origin themselves should be taken with a fistful of salt.

I would also be interested to know specific sales figures for games on PSN and XBL, were this route ever to be explored as well.
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Any additional well collected data will help improve the skew on current chart sales, and help provide a better correlation of digital vs traditional sales. It probably wont be exhaustive (yet) but its a good start
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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments4 years ago
I was under the impression steam didn't provide numbers on the basis the data was the publishers, IE they'd need permission of each publisher on steam in order to do this.
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Joost van Dreunen CEO & Co-founder, SuperData Research, Inc.4 years ago
@adam, they don't share because of competitive advantages. many of the smaller distro's have a niche/longtail-focus. And overlord Steam has no incentive to share anything. better for them to keep the mystery alive and have people overestimate their share.
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Phil Blunt indie developer 4 years ago
"it will only affect Valve published titles" < fails to see the size of the indie scene, most of which don't need a publisher and opt for a simple distribution deal instead. IMHO Steam is a massive part of the digital distribution space, Origin.. meh.
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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart4 years ago
"One of the important things that will differentiate the UKIE digital chart from others is that companies that submit data will also be able to access data from other contributors. The NDAs stop companies leaking each other's results.

"For individual companies imagine a situation where you're to work out what sort of products you should be bringing out in the future, you want to do some benchmarking and understand what's going on in the market, you don't have reliable data at the moment to use. So we're going to try and get that for you." "

This is precisely the reason why companies should not do it. Why on earth would you give away your sales data in a way that allows your competitor to take advantage of... say create a product that cannibalises your own market. +1 for free speech but commercial suicide. Hence the reasons Valve/ATVI etc do not release such data.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Graham Simpson on 26th January 2012 3:50pm

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
@ Phil

Exactly what I was thinking. It may be that 2K will share sales data for Darkness 2 on Steam, or Bethesda will share Skyrim's Steam purchases. But will Hitbox, say, care about sharing their sales data for DustForce with UKIE? It seems unlikely - they're more likely to do what Team Meat did, and just give an interview where they say Steam is Awesome, because they sold X amount in X days.
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Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster4 years ago
At least they can go to individual publishers I guess.
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Michal Bayerl Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
I would really like to know the figures to calm down the debate about how PC gaming is not doing well, but there are so many digital distributions, that it wouldn't be much reliable. Ok, Steam is the biggest, but not the last and knowing Steam and Origin figures isn't enough to express how digital distribution participates on selling games. Moreover many retail games are Steam-only and these you cannot count. Beside Steam and Origin, there are tens of other digital distributions (indie bundles, GoG etc.) and that's impossible to track.

And from the customers side, it's not important to know these figures, so why would Valve do it, if it has no value for the customer?
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