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Chart-Track: UK "not ready" for downloads chart

Digital downloads may well be the future — but the UK still isn't ready for an official games downloads chart, according to Chart-Track.

Digital downloads may well be the future — but the UK still isn't ready for an official games downloads chart.

That's the latest from Chart-Track, which had hoped to launch the first PC chart by the end of last year - althought the sales monitor insists "there is a will for it to happen" and is committed to pushing for a 2008 introduction.

Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz, Chart-Track director Dorian Bloch admitted that the fragmented and relatively small size of the digital market was the main stumbling block to a comprehensive listing.

"We're still negotiating and talking to all the major players in that arena," he said. "It's just not reached a point where we can kick it off. It's just not ready.

"With our current retail panel, some of those have been experimenting with digital downloads on PC, and when they do we get the data, which is great.

"But we can't kick it off with a few people — we need to cover all the bases. And there are lots of people doing lots of different things."

Leading publishers including Ubisoft, Sierra, Sega, THQ and Codemasters already support established and growing digital download services like Metaboli, the Virgin-backed A World Of My Own, and Half-Life developer Valve's Steam, while Electronic Arts offers digital releases to UK consumers direct from its own store.

"We have to look at the publishers," Bloch continued. "With EA, they are in effect becoming a retailer. But we can't just take data from them as that would skew the figures.

"We have to make sure we cover data from Steam, for instance, certainly in the UK. What are the developers up to? How many independents are selling online?

"Not that many, but all these things change over time. It's something we certainly need to do — and when we do it we'll do it properly."

Asked whether a 2008 launch was now possible for a PC downloads chart, Bloch said: "I hope so - it rather depends on size of market," noting that the games sector faces similar issues to mobile gaming, where operators are reluctant to divulge sales data for fear of poor figures affecting their share price.

But he maintained: "Absolutely there's a will for it to happen — and we would hope it would happen via us."

According to Chart-Track, its sales data currently represents 90 per cent of boxed games sales in the UK.

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Johnny Minkley

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Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.

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