The lights are on
Each month, NPD publishes are report tracking United States retail video game and hardware sales. As digital software sales have become an increasingly substantial part of the landscape as detailed this year by EA and Activision on earnings calls.
The value of the NPD report has been questioned given the transition from being the all-encompassing data source for the market in the United States to just a slice of the sales pie. That is set to change very soon according to the agency.
In a conversation with GamesIndustry International, NPD games group chief David McQuillan has promised that digital tracking is coming soon. "We fully realize that the market needs the same level of information for the digital categories as exists for the physical business today: SKU-level POS," McQuillan said. "The progress on that effort up until recently has been slow and frustrating at times, but today I am very happy to share that the pace of progress has changed recently. NPD has formed a leader panel to track digital POS sales of full game and add-on content downloads."
NPD will be partnering with EEDAR, and the digital data will be global in scope (unlike the retail tracking). Integration of the digital data with the monthly US retail reports will not happen right away.
[Source: GamesIndustry International]
Our TakeThis is a critical step for NPD as digital becomes ever more important. McQuillan doesn't believe that digital will ever overtake retail sales though, and I don't think he's correct. Even though Microsoft and Sony are still using discs in their next-generation consoles, the push for day one digital (possibly through incentives, as I've previously discussed) will be significant.
McQuillan is optimistic that retail sales will see a rebound in 2014. I agree. With new hardware comes an air of mystique and renewed interest. We still don't know the full capabilities of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but onboard streaming capabilities and enhanced user experiences (as Ted Price of Insomniac told us yesterday) are going to drive adoption.