NPD has been working on growing its digital sales tracking, and issues quarterly Total Consumer Spend reports that include digital, but for most in the industry, the firm still represents retail point-of-sale tracking above all else, and to Electronic Arts, this data just doesn't matter all that much anymore. The NPD Group didn't like hearing from EA today that its retail data is "totally irrelevant."
David McQuillan, President of NPD Games, explained to GamesIndustry International why retail sales information and specifically NPD's reporting on it, matters very much still to the triple-A game publishers today.
"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," he said.
"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."
McQuillan also stressed that gamers' buying habits still very much include retail products, particularly during holiday periods when the industry generally does a sizable chunk of its annual business.
"According to our latest estimates, new physical software represented 56% of the consumer spend on games content in the U.S. in 2011, and 70% in Q4, specifically. If a publisher that produced AAA content were in a position where they could not access NPD data to analyze, 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," he said.