EA slams NPD over digital sales

Publisher says NPD data "a misrepresentation of the entire industry"

EA has criticised US sales data group NPD, saying that the firm's failure to account for digital download figures gives a skewed picture of the market.

Speaking to CNN, EA corporate communications executive Tiffany Steckler has said that NPD is ignoring a hugely important part of the games business.

"Using NPD data for video game sales is like measuring music sales and ignoring something called iTunes," said Steckler. "We see NPD's data as a misrepresentation of the entire industry."

Using NPD data for video game sales is like measuring music sales and ignoring something called iTunes

Tiffany Steckler, EA.

Recently, the publisher has been conducting a push towards the download market, with chief financial officer Eric Brown declaring that his company is aiming at a target of 40 per cent digital revenue from DLC, microtransactions and the publisher's casual arm, Playfish.

NPD publishes American sales figures each month, and has become a touchstone for the US video games market, but the organisation does not include any sales data from outside traditional brick and mortar retailers in that report.

Instead, NPD publishes a quarterly paper dedicated to digital retail.

That's a big concern for EA, whose CEO John Riccitello claimed that digital would overtake physical product this year. Already, the company predicts a revenue of $750 million from digital sales for the financial year ending March 31.

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Latest comments (13)

Bruce Nesbit Programmer 9 years ago
Maybe they ignored it because they cant get decent figures from the large sources of digital downloads ? Just a thought.
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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart9 years ago
The point is NPD numbers are now deliberately misleading and they cause such an upheaval in share prices everytime they are released unsettling investors. Then companies have to waste time talking to investors when they should be focusing on games. As for not releasing the digital data it's perfectly reasonable to withold data that companies believe competitors could advantage from. What is not perfectly reasonable is releasing half a dataset that disrupts the share prices on a regular basis. Personally I'd speak to the SEC since there are very clear rules about releasing information that moves markets. Its called market manipulation.
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Well, EA could start to disclose its own digital sales as a start. However, I doubt that this will happen. With physical goods there was more transparency since more parties were involved. But with digital sales everyone is keeping their cards close.
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Show all comments (13)
agreed, but you can't have cake and eat it - EA and other large publishers need to choose either to reveal digital sales data to NPD or stop complaining about them not being included. Its just that simple. Remember, DLC sales are more and more direct publisher to customer business so only them have all the data NPD needs.
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Morten Larssen VP, Sales & Marketing, Funcom9 years ago
The NPD data for PC Games especially stopped having any relevance a few years ago. Digital downloads from either the big aggregators like Steam and D2D, or directly from the publishers make up more than 50% of sales now, and on some more niche titles in the 80% - 90% range. The only thing I use NPD data for now is launch sales on console titles as well as to track hardware sales.
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Sergei Klimov Director of Publishing & Business Development, Snowbird Studios9 years ago
Hey Morten, long time no hear ;). The funny thing about digital sales is that even in Russia, we have local digital sales - which we can more or less track and account for, - and then we have publishers selling products to customers in Russia digitally, which data doesn't go anywhere except to the original developers or publishers. We did NN amount of Machinarium at retail, for example, but then a few % of the sales of the game through Steam went to Russia just as well, and we won't see that in any local report. I wonder if it's possible in general, to aggregate such data by now. I don't see how it would work. Damien at Focus sells his cycling game direct from the web. Nobody will see that, except for him and his fulfillment partners.
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Mario Alemi Operations Research 9 years ago
On the other hand, EA games on the App Store are not performing that well.... NPD's numbers might be wrong, but it does not take much to see that a few EA games have the tendency to drop to the bottom of the App Store Top Grossing list, or am I wrong? E.g. Pricing mobile apps: Why EA is losing money
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Lenny Raymond Vice President, Strategy & Development, Subutai Corporation9 years ago
As F2P / item sales -based games become more prevalent NPD numbers are going to become even less relevant and less connected with reality.
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NPD have always been way, way out, they have never included Walmart (amongst others), they are now even more irrelevant.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ross Symons on 15th March 2011 10:23pm

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Max Clayton Clowes Studying Computer Science, Durham University9 years ago
@Lenny Raymond

Very good point. Accurate data from here on out will need to recognise that digital downloads are just as much a product as the game itself.
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Edward Hunter Assistant Designer, Electronic Arts9 years ago

EA games are performing extremely well on the iTunes store (judged from my limited access to sales data as a designer). The main hurdle we're faced with is giving the games a longer burn rather than having the spikes and troughs in sales we see. Obviously a lower price point would encourage more players, but we're offering a 'premium' product as opposed to Tap Zoo.

All this is totally out of my hands and I may be hitting above my weight, I just design the games and I'm not living in a box so we're doing a-ok.
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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart9 years ago
Very interesting commentary about iTunes 'sales charts' from the World of Goo developers.
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Peter Warman CEO & Co Founder, Newzoo9 years ago
Newzoo has some nice free reports and graphs that do include all digital bizz models in US and EU. Might want to check them out at [link url=][/link] New report with outlook to 2012 with "total picture" to be published end this month. Digital game sales will surpass retail sales in 2011; New opportunities for retail is title of press release later today.
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