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NPD has been underestimating digital game sales since at least 2010

New, 'restated' reporting from NPD shows that spending on game software has actually been increasing steadily since 2010, whereas previously reported data showed somewhat of a spending plateau.

Alissa McAloon, Publisher

April 24, 2017

1 Min Read

The 2017 edition of the ESA’s annual Essential Facts report offered an overview of the ever growing game industry, but Ars Technica points out that this report also updated NPD data from past years to more accurately reflect actual consumer spending as well.

The new, “restated” reporting from NPD shows that spending on game software has actually been increasing steadily since 2010, whereas the previously reported data indicated somewhat of a spending plateau.

According to NPD, these discrepancies came from a lack of information on digital game and DLC sales in past years. For example, the 2016 report said that 44 percent of all consumer game spending was on physical versions of games in 2015. This year’s report now says that only 31 percent of game sales were physical in that same year. 

As a result, 2015 consumer spending was previously reported as $16.5 billion, rather than the $23.2 billion indicated by current data. Those discrepancies go back as far as 2010 and range between 2 percent and 40 percent changes.

NPD spokesperson David Riley told Ars Technica that “the numbers have been restated to account for better visibility on mobile and digital full games and DLC spending.” The restatement, he says, was made possible by NPD’s earlier acquisition of the analytics firm EEDAR, as well as the flow of more data directly from a panel of game publishers.

Ars Technica has a full report of both the old and new data available online, complete with a per-year breakdown of physical sales and general spending as reported both by the old and updated ESA Essential Facts document.

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About the Author(s)

Alissa McAloon

Publisher, GameDeveloper.com

As the Publisher of Game Developer, Alissa McAloon brings a decade of experience in the video game industry and media. When not working in the world of B2B game journalism, Alissa enjoys spending her time in the worlds of immersive sandbox games or dabbling in the occasional TTRPG.

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