Many often gauge industry success on the statistics offered by the NPD, but the two biggest video game publishers disagree with that assessment.
The NPD has recently altered its reporting practices and both Electronic Arts and Activision now claim the group's portrayal of the industry is "misleading and potentially irrelevant." EA has called out the lack of digital sales tracking in the NPD reports; the group doesn't count digital distribution channels like PSN, Xbox Live, and Steam. They do have a separate report for this category but it doesn't impact the overall findings and besides, the public – including the press – never gets to see it. Said EA corporate communications executive Tiffany Steckler:
"Using NPD data for video game sales is like measuring music sales and ignoring something called iTunes. We see NPD's data as a misrepresentation of the entire industry."
NPD representative David Riley responded by saying Steckler was blowing things out of proportion, although we have to admit that the lack of a digital impact is a serious flaw. Digital distribution has become a major aspect of the industry over the past couple of years, and to discount it when painting a financial picture of the video game business is indeed a little "misleading."
On the other hand, the regular retail space for games remains the most telling aspect of the industry. That hasn't changed just yet. As for Activision, let's not forget about titles like World of Warcraft ; the publisher says the "growth part" of their business is largely non-retail sales. So who's right?