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NPD has for quite some time now stopped publicly sharing sales data after many years of doing so. Now they are apparently starting to crack down on sales numbers leaks, which could make it even harder to come across any sales figures. It's already August and nobody has yet to divulge any numbers for June. The fact that the NPD Group are a for-profit company with a de facto monopoly on sales tracking is likely a contributing factor for them placing everything behind a massive paywall. For those of us who are interested in sales figures from an academic standpoint, in cataloging and contextualizing them, the inability to collect actual sales data is lamentable to say the least. I've never agreed with the idea of NPD being so secretive with sales data in recent years, especially after they were for the longest time very open with sales data. I don't even really agree that such data should be subjected to being locked behind a massive paywall in the first place. We get daily domestic box office figures for Hollywood films (and periodic updates for international grosses), The Numbers has been publicly publishing DVD/Blu-ray sales for years, and it's been relatively easy to find sales figures for most music albums. Even with video games, Famitsu has been publicly publishing sales figures for over 20 years. But the NPD Group has decided that video game sales figures for the U.S. market are to be deemed off-limits to the general public.

So, I propose a serious effort to break the NPD's monopoly by starting a non-profit sales tracker for the U.S. market. VGC should be that alternate tracker, but for whatever reasons they are often off from NPD's numbers by a considerable amount even after adjustments. In fact, old VGC articles indicate that being an accurate sales tracker was never VGC's purpose to begin with. Seeing as there is no reliable alternative to NPD, there really ought to be an alternate sales tracker for U.S. sales, one that offers reliable, accurate data. Such a tracker ought to be a non-profit enterprise, sharing sales figures publicly without placing them behind a paywall. Such an effort would still require monetary resources, and therefore I propose that such a sales tracker ought to be crowdfunded.

Of course, there are several issues to resolve:

  • Procuring sales data from retailers. The majority of the U.S. market should tracked by acquiring data from the largest sellers of video games (e.g., GameStop, Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy). But how do major sales trackers go about acquiring data in the first place? Do they call individual stores, or get sales data from regional or home offices of major retailers?
  • How much manpower would be required to obtain sales data in the first place? Again, this is likely going to be dependent on how sales trackers procure information from retailers in the first place.
  • It would likely be beneficial to periodically acquire NPD reports for purposes of comparison, to ensure the tracking efforts are reasonably accurate. NPD's data is considered as authoritative as it gets, and I would think any competing sales tracker ought to average within, say, 2% of NPD's figures to be considered accurate. But how much do these reports cost?

In any case, for those of us who enjoy discussing and cataloging sales figures for primarily academic reasons, for understanding how and why things sell the way they do, and for gauging the overall health of the market and of individual systems and games, there needs to be a free and open source for reliable sales information, and the NPD Group is not that. With their secrecy, it's entirely possible that our only source for figures could be cut off from us forever. While the leaks have resumed before, and even the NPD has on occasion divulged some numbers for short periods of time (assuming those were official reveals and not leaks themselves), there's no guarantee that we'll ever see any NPD numbers ever again. That is why we need a real alternative.

So, do you think that such an effort is feasible and worthwhile? If so, is anyone interested in pursuing such an endeavor? I really hope so, because I'd like to think I'm not the only one who takes studying sales figures as seriously as I do.

P.S.: Let's try to keep it on topic and not make it about the NPD, but rather about creating an alternative.

Last edited by Shadow1980 - on 07 August 2019