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Comparing January 2011 NPD Data with HULIQ game chart

David Hughes's picture

HULIQ News compares its data from the weekly top 20 video game chart with the official NPD Group for January 2011.

A variety of personal circumstances have kept me from reporting on the NPD Group’s report for January 2011 in a more timely manner, so I apologize to regular readers of the weekly tracking chart as well as HULIQ News’ coverage in general. Rather than keep this a news report, however, I think it will be more beneficial to examine the NPD’s report and compare it with the data revealed each week in the top 20 tracking chart. This is complicated by the fact that the NPD combines all individual SKU’s of a given title, whereas HULIQ separates them out, but the results will nonetheless be interesting to examine.

Hardware

Overall revenue in this segment was $324 million, an 8 percent decrease over January 2010. Further details emerged after the initial report that the Xbox 360 sold 381,000 units, a 14.4 percent increase. The Wii sold 319,00 units, a 31 percent decrease. The Playstation 3 shifted 267,000 units, a 3 percent decrease.

Comparing this with HULIQ’s own data finds no surprises here. The Xbox 360 had a very good month in January, bolstered primarily by its consoles bundled with the Kinect peripheral, which will make the current data for February all the more interesting to analyze (hint: the Xbox 360 isn’t doing so well). The main surprise would be that the margin of ‘victory’ in the month was a mere 62,000 units – I would have guessed something over 100,000 units as the separation between the Xbox 360 and the Wii. Speaking of the weaker consoles, the 31 percent decrease in Wii sales continues a long-standing trend in 2010, but Sony looks poised to recover some of the momentum it lost in 2010.

So far, so good.

Software

Software saw a similar level of decline to hardware, with total revenue of $576 million representing a 5 percent year over year loss. While the continuing downtrend in revenue across three straight years (2009-2011 to date) is worrisome for the industry, this ignores a continuing black hole in the data available for analysis: digital revenue from downloadable games, DLC and other extra content.

Where the differences between HULIQ’s and the NPD Group’s data really start to show is in the software picture. This can be attributed to two main factors: given its far greater resources, the NPD Group has a much better picture of the retail industry; HULIQ’s top 20 chart includes pre-orders in the mix, biasing the results to show what is happening on a week-to-week basis versus a deep picture of what all five versions of a title like Call of Duty: Black Ops is selling. Perhaps the best way to offer readers the chance to compare will be to simply reprint the top 10 titles as reported by the NPD Group followed by the top 10 titles in January as calculated by recombining the data underpinning the weekly sales charts.

NPD Group software sales rankings, January 2011:

  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops
  2. Just Dance 2
  3. Dead Space 2
  4. Little Big Planet 2
  5. Zumba Fitness: Join the Party
  6. NBA 2K11
  7. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
  8. Dance Central
  9. Michael Jackson The Experience
  10. DC Universe Online

HULIQ News top 10, individual SKU’s combined, January 2011:

  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops
  2. Zumba Fitness: Join the Party
  3. Just Dance 2
  4. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
  5. Little Big Planet 2
  6. Dance Central
  7. Dead Space 2
  8. Kinect Sports
  9. Wii Fit
  10. DC Universe Online

Minor differences in ranking are no surprise here, but perhaps the biggest surprise on that note would be that the NPD places Just Dance 2 above Zumba Fitness when HULIQ’s data shows the latter outselling the former after the first third of January. Likewise, while Dead Space 2 has clearly sold well, it surprises me to see it placing third despite having released with less than a week remaining in the month.

The big surprise here is that Michael Jackson: The Experience places in the top 10 at all, when my data suggests sales drop off precipitously after the very first week in January. The game has seen a resurgence in sales (in February) but failed to move our needle for most of January. NBA 2K11’s appearance is less surprising, given that sales of the title are stretched over six platforms (Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, Wii, PS2, PC) and only the two HD consoles ever registered in HULIQ’s data sets.

Next month, circumstances allowing, HULIQ News will issue a prediction of what the NPD Group’s report will show versus this retrospective style of analysis. That said, I hope this candid look at where HULIQ’s data differs with the ‘official’ data of the NPD Group will be worthwhile to our regular readers.

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