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ELSPA unveils download chart plans

Trade organisation to trial data collection ahead of planned public release in due course

UK publishing trade body, ELSPA, has unveiled its plans to produce a digital download chart in association with GfK Chart-Track, and confirmed the co-operation of a number of its members.

Among those signed up to the plans already are Ubisoft, THQ, Sega, NCsoft, Mastertronic, Kalypso Media, Midas Interactive and Square Enix, with three more "major publishers" set to confirm their involvement imminently, a statement from the organisation revealed.

The chart, which will be compiled from data contributed by the group members, will focus on PC downloads within the UK, using information from key platforms - including Steam.

But while the movement has been put together primarily by publishers, ELSPA is keen to see independent developers also getting involved in order to create the most accurate picture of the state - and extent - of digital distribution possible.

"We formed this group specifically to deal with the supply of an official download chart, initially for the PC and initially for the UK," explained ELSPA chairman Andy Payne. "We are really glad that ELSPA members have stepped up to the plate and we have a legal agreement with Chart-Track for them to do the heavy lifting as they have the experience and knowledge of the industry.

"This chart will be owned by ELSPA and I would call for other members to join the group as soon as they can and not miss out in helping to form and shape this important development for all of us. We are in the process of reaching out to TIGA and their membership and hope to have more on that very soon."

The chart itself will undergo a closed beta phase for the next few months while the group evaluates the quality and feasibility of the data, although it's hoped that it will be made public sooner, rather than later.

John Pinder, MDirector of GfK Chart-Track said of the deal with ELSPA: "We at Chart-Track are thrilled to have been invited to extend our remit for the packaged goods charts into the digital space. Working with ELSPA and their members makes total sense and we look forward to delivering a chart very soon."

And Sam Collins, commercial manager at ELSPA added: "It's great to be working with members to build a report which will not only deliver member value, but one which will help the UK interactive entertainment industry realise its potential in an increasingly connected digital economy."

Currently only boxed product sales - either via High Street or online retailers - are counted in the weekly UK sales chart, but with a dramatic rise in digital distribution that leaves the industry without a clear picture of how far the transition to online has moved.

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Phil Elliott