Digital sales have been in NPD Group's pipeline for a while, but Games group president David McQuillan says we can expect to see POS (point-of-sale) digital data before the year is out, in time to cover the launch of the next console generation.
"We fully realize that the market needs the same level of information for the digital categories as exists for the physical business today," McQuillan tells GamesIndustry International
. "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."
Because NPD has heretofore excluded digital sales from its monthly reports Gamasutra chose last month to skip coverage of the reports
for our readers. As Editor-in-Chief Kris Graft said at the time:
"NPD obviously knows the importance of tracking and reporting revenues from digital venues, such as paid downloads, subscriptions, mobile, etc., as well as used game and rental revenue: The company now includes monthly estimates for these streams. But the way that publishers and digital distributors like Steam lock down their sales data, it's hard to imagine anyone making accurate estimations of sales by title, or even overall digital sales."
Indeed, as McQuillan tells GamesIndustry International, "If it was easy it would have already been accomplished."
"Once we move past the beta or proof of concept phase, subscribers will have access to the full data set, which you would expect of any service. The level of information to be shared publicly has not been determined at this time," McQuillan continued. "We are in discussion on a number of initiatives to enable more frequent reporting."
Of particular note, NPD is looking to have its digital tracking go global in focus, rather than limited to U.S. retail. "Global coverage is... a necessary element of the solution that we are working to provide," McQuillan maintained.
NPD sales tracking for digital, if effectively implemented, would go a long way to keeping the group's reports relevant for a 21st century industry -- and determine their future relevance for Gamasutra's readers as well. We'll keep you posted.