According to the extremely thorough sales figure tracking and reporting company, NPD Group, PC game sales are at $701 million for 2008. That’s down 14% from last year. Before we all start running around like mental patients with their heads cut off screaming doomsday and bloody murder, lets get a few thing straight here.
Yes, it’s true that boxed, on the store shelves copies of PC games are down by 14%. I know I’m no expert, hell I’m not even sure I can add, but here is how I know the biggest flaw in NPD’s methods. NPD does not consider the sales of digitally distributed games in their reporting, nor do they consider subscription models or microtransactions. So through the magical wonders of the process of elimination, I’ve deducted from NPD’s numbers that sales of boxed copies of PC games are in fact down 14%.
It’s interesting to say the least, that a company whose whole purpose to report accurate sales figures for the gaming industry would leave out such a now major component of the PC sales market. So excuse us if we don’t take these number seriously as they leave out huge online retailers, like Steam and Direct2Drive, whose numbers of digitally sold and distributed games probably make up more than the 14% “decline” and then some.
NPD needs to get on the train, because with regularly available broadband, digital distribution will only go up. Even putting aside subscriptions and microtransactions, including digital distribution as “retail” sales must become mandatory, otherwise its numbers will increasingly become less accurate as time goes on.