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Forums - Sales Discussion - June 2016 NPD Results

ZhugeEX said:

I'd make a note though that some of the old data is very unreliable and has been adjusted in later years. 

I'm guessing that's why the raw weekly NPD data Aqua posted for June 2001 gives different results for the month as a whole than the monthly numbers everywhere else.



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ZhugeEX said:
Shadow1980 said:

Well, it is 2016, so I figured everything would have made its way to the internet by now in some form or another. There's been sales discussions on GAF and elsewhere going back many years, after all. I had no idea most of the old data was still on paper and apparently scarce enough and buried in reams of offline content to where they just haven't made it to us yet. I guess that does explain why older data has proven so hard to come by in my years-long search for hardware numbers.

I'd make a note though that some of the old data is very unreliable and has been adjusted in later years. 

Please note that a lot of NPD sales "adjustments" over the years have actually come from people who were NOT part of The NPD Group, but instead were just regular people who thought that NPD was inaccurate so they have to "fix" their numbers.

That's why I think presenting the original data as-is will always be relevant. Old sales data is a relic and it's important to have a window into how people back in the day experienced it.

The problem with sales data on the Internet is that it gets passed through so many hands such that when the original source is a bit questionable, misinformation can spread for decades and nobody is really there to correct it.

 

Shadow1980 said:
Aquamarine said:

Well yeah, silly.

We have video game sales data going all the way back to the 1980's. That was back before the Internet even existed! Everything was archived on paper back then.

Not even The NPD Group has their full archives of numbers digitized. You can't even access old NPD numbers past a certain point on their online portal.

Well, it is 2016, so I figured everything would have made its way to the internet by now in some form or another. There's been sales discussions on GAF and elsewhere going back many years, after all. I had no idea most of the old data was still on paper and apparently scarce enough and buried in reams of offline content to where they just haven't made it to us yet. I guess that does explain why older data has proven so hard to come by in my years-long search for hardware numbers.

Again, the problem with NPD is that video game sales tracking is a ridiculously niche subset of sales tracking.

There are two reasons for that:

1) Video games are a boom-and-bust business. It was a lot smaller back in the 1980's and 1990's, and trends from that era have all but vanished. So companies don't care in the slightest about how old genres or old platforms have sold because it is considered a relic of a bygone time.

In contrast, old box office sales numbers are much better preserved because cinema has stayed pretty much the same for 60 years, so how a franchise sold back in the 1980's or 1990's is still relevant today after you adjust for inflation and market size.

 

2) There are so few subscribers to NPD's video game tracking service that NPD doesn't give video games the same sort of care as they would one of their more popular services. After all, The NPD Group is a business. They're going to follow growth opportunities...and taking the time and effort to dig up and preserve super-old sales numbers just isn't worth the opportunity cost when none of their clients would care about the numbers (and nobody new would subscribe to them).

It's really sad to see sales data slowly fade away on pieces of paper in dusty archives, but what can you do? Time ticks on and honestly, most people only care about sales data to use as ammo in their console wars online. The niche who truly care about sales data is just so small that even if you were to dedicate lots of time and energy to it, it's largely thankless as a very, very tiny population would be the only ones who care about it.

I've gone through tremendous effort to archive an incredible amount of extremely rare, super-old NPD data in the past. Hundreds and hundreds of hours of transcription off of paper. And only a few people have thanked me for it.

Honestly, it's just better to put time and effort into something you love and something that lots of people will appreciate. For me, that's writing and directing and managing a production company. That's where I really feel like I can change the world.



Aquamarine said:
ZhugeEX said:

I'd make a note though that some of the old data is very unreliable and has been adjusted in later years. 

Please note that a lot of NPD sales "adjustments" over the years have actually come from people who were NOT part of The NPD Group, but instead were just regular people who thought that NPD was inaccurate so they have to "fix" their numbers.

That's why I think presenting the original data as-is will always be relevant. Old sales data is a relic and it's important to have a window into how people back in the day experienced it.

The problem with sales data on the Internet is that it gets passed through so many hands such that when the original source is a bit questionable, misinformation can spread for decades and nobody is really there to correct it.

I seem to remember NPD adjusting data themselves in the past as well? 

Even in the last generation as well? 

Am I mis-remembering here?

I know that some people adjust NPD data themselves but that wasn't what I was talking about in the last post. Some old NPD data is quite unreliable (From the early 90's) as they didn't have the capibility to track the entire market. (Again, please correct me if I'm wrong).

 

But I agree, always good to see original sell through data from the time it was released. 

Thanks again for all you do and your knowledge on the subject, Aqua. 



ZhugeEX said:
Aquamarine said:

Please note that a lot of NPD sales "adjustments" over the years have actually come from people who were NOT part of The NPD Group, but instead were just regular people who thought that NPD was inaccurate so they have to "fix" their numbers.

That's why I think presenting the original data as-is will always be relevant. Old sales data is a relic and it's important to have a window into how people back in the day experienced it.

The problem with sales data on the Internet is that it gets passed through so many hands such that when the original source is a bit questionable, misinformation can spread for decades and nobody is really there to correct it.

I seem to remember NPD adjusting data themselves in the past as well? 

Even in the last generation as well? 

Am I mis-remembering here?

I know that some people adjust NPD data themselves but that wasn't what I was talking about in the last post. Some old NPD data is quite unreliable (From the early 90's) as they didn't have the capibility to track the entire market. (Again, please correct me if I'm wrong).

 

But I agree, always good to see original sell through data from the time it was released. 

Thanks again for all you do and your knowledge on the subject, Aqua. 

Let me explain the history of NPD data.

The NPD Group has tracked video game sell-through since 1984. Back then, video games were considered toys, and were tracked as a subset of the toy market as part of NPD's Toy Retail Sales Tracking Service.

Originally, 10 chains participated in the service which corresponded to 1,300 stores across the USA. These 10 major chains provided SKU-level data to NPD every month, where NPD would then consolidate them and sell the data to toy manufacturers.

By 1993, NPD's Toy Retail Tracking Service had grew to track 20 firms which corresponded to approximately 65% of the market. 1993 is also when NPD added Toys R Us POS data, which was the largest video game retailer in the USA at the time. That's when NPD felt confident enough in their numbers to start being more authoritative.

Obviously back then, NPD would project up the % of the market they wouldn't track using algorithms...which was significant back in the early days (note: in 2016, NPD directly tracks 95% of the market).

You are correct that NPD doesn't put much faith in its super-old toy sales data because initially they only had 10 chains participating in it. Back then, they simply just didn't have the accuracy to be authoritative on video game sales...that's why NPD would prefer to let its old sales archives fade away.

But NPD has been historically very hesistant to permanently "adjust" its old data because they already "adjusted" it at the time of release. A lot of adjustments or claims of adjustments on the Internet....weren't actually adjusted by NPD at all.

Square2005 / Square2015 and sonycowboy are two examples of people who took raw NPD data and then adjusted it up "to fix inaccuracies." Those two sources are now used as some of the basis for historical sales archives everywhere. VG Chartz's own ioi was also famous back in the day for adjusting old sales data.

So when you look at old figures from the Internet you have to always question their authenticity.