# Data on the Web: VGChartz vs. NPD

After writing my first post, Equity Research in the Age of Web 2.0, I received a lot of comments asking really good questions. Most of the questions from readers asked about real world examples. So here’s a taste.

In the world of securities research, in general, we talk about consensus sources. These are sources that everyone looks to as an arbiter of what may be happening in a market or industry. In the macro economic world, figures released by the US government, (measures like labor statistics or GDP) are used by the market as a whole to judge where the economy may be headed and where it has been. In certain industries, independent benchmarks are used to define the prospects of an industry or the individual performance of the firms involved. A great example of this is the NPD Group.

The NPD Group, provides pay services that collect information from various retailers and then in turn creates a measure of sales for many product categories. Usually the reports are done on a monthly basis coming out about 2 weeks after the previous months close. I am pretty familiar with their reports and most equity analysts and the market use them as the benchmark. Usually an analyst will write a report in which they predict sales for a particular company in relation to the data provided by NPD. The differences in an equity analyst’s view of NPD and his own projection usually leads to an upside or downside surprise in a equity’s price, once the NPD reports are published and received by the market.

For the video game sector, NPD produces the benchmark measures for North American game and console sales. Analysts like Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan, and Colin Sebastian of Lazard, create, on a regular basis their monthly forecasts of where NPD will come in at. Over the last couple of years a new entrant has entered the picture with different aims from NPD; enter VGChartz. By all accounts this newcomer is causing a headache for NPD and their for pay service.

VGchartz uses a similar methodology as NPD, in trending and forecasting game sales through representative samples.
Here is a excerpt from their About Us page.

“With a growing team of analysts, over ten years of experience and with over twenty years of historical data at our disposal, VG Chartz should be seen as a very powerful prediction tool for industry and casual user alike in looking ahead to the future market and making educated and informed predictions. Using our powerful and proprietary graphing and analysis tools, users can query the extensive sales database and compare the performance of hardware and software sales over time between different formats, genres, titles and manufacturers.”

The main difference between NPD & VGChartz is that, VGChartz is a user-based community of video game enthusiasts/experts and NPD is a market research company. Their business models also differ, NPD is a for-pay service and VGChartz looks to be supported mostly by paid advertising. While VGChartz makes their North American data available on a weekly basis along with data from Japan and Europe. NPD is focused on North America, and their data is released monthly.

So if you’re an investor interested in this sector or an analyst — the first question you should ask yourself “is the data from VGChartz good?” My answer is, after looking at and using VGChartz data for the last two years, it’s quality. But please in the Age of Web 2.0 form your own opinion.
Here are my reasons:

• The data is weekly as opposed to monthly — time is a big advantage. (I saw Sony’s changing future thanks to VGChartz much quicker than if I’d waited for monthly numbers)
• It is the only place to get as close as possible to worldwide figures on console & game sales.
• The best part of using or working with VGChartz data is that they give you their biases upfront along with a comparison of their numbers against NPD and key analysts like Michael Pachter.
• There is community that has arisen around the numbers; that is willing to have an open exchange about the short comings, and methodologies in VGChartz’s multiple forums. You really don’t get that with NPD.

It has to drive NPD nuts that a site like VGChartz can create a presence and provide high quality information with a completely different business model. I am sure in the NPD mindset, the thought of an outsider competing with them in this space was completely unanticipated. This was a theme that was echoed at our last Money:Tech. On one hand we had Reuters’ Devin Wenig talking to Tim O’Reilly saying he didn’t “… see direct competition from consumer media (including Google), arguing that professionals need richer, more curated information sources.” And on the other hand, we had Sean Park of Six Paradigm talking about grabbing high quality useful data, as a buy sider, from consumer-oriented services like Yahoo! Finance and Google.

The one thing you can count on is this, smart professionals and investors will always look to high quality data sources that are leading indicators for consensus. If I can find a piece of data, or a source that is a good predictor for what a benchmark will do, I will use it no matter where it comes from. Time and proven results are the final judge. If it happens to be free, so much the better.

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• meister

Interesting article but you really should do more homework before you author stories like these.

vgchartz.com is all about smoke and mirrors. He continually lies to his visitors. I can explain his real history in great detail if you’re interested but Brett Walton, the site’s founder, is nothing more than a petty manipulator and illusionist. The problem is, he sees nothing wrong with what he’s doing. It really does boil down to the fact that his visitors believe what he’s posted in his “Methodology” section. For the record, he’s lying to his visitors. He doesn’t collect data from retailers. All of vgchartz’s figures are guesstimates. He TAKES charted information and best sellers lists from online stores like Amazon (this is how he’s able to get a ballpark Top 10 list each week/month), and from stores like Wal-mart, Target and Gamecrazy, then fits that data to chart positions, using publicly available historical information from NPD, Famitsu and other reputable firms for reference. In reality, he uses public chart positions, press releases and shipment figures to come up with sales figures. Don’t believe any of this? Ask him!

This is NOT Brett Walton’s (vgchartz) proprietary information, nor is this information something that a real analyst couldn’t compile with a little hard work and common sense but at the end of the day it’s all about making it easy. Ahhh, that’s why we have to love the Internet. There’s no longer a need for integrity. Just point and shoot … I mean, click.

vgchartz’s information belongs to the market research firms and retailers he’s lifting it from. He should give credit where credit is due. He’s making a name for himself off the hard work of others. Wal-Mart, Target, GameCrazy, NPD, Famitsu, Chart Track, Amazon … the list is large but not nearly as large as Brett Walton’s ego.

• wtf?

I have read a lot of strange stories in my life but this one takes the cake. Comparing NPD to VGCrapz is like comparing a fine wine to Boone’s Farm. There simply is no comparison. You did NPD a disservice with this one but given the nature of Wall Street analysts, I’m not surprised.

VGCrapz is about as reliable as a used condom. The only numbers that are even remotely close to actual sales is the hardware but these figures aren’t anything you can’t get from shipment figures that are publicly available. The site’s software numbers are so off, they’re practically useless. It has to offer its data for free or nobody would use it. What meister’s saying is 100% accurate. VGCrapz wouldn’t be in existence if the likes of NPD and GfK stopped providing sales figures and lists to the public.

This para-site is nothing more than an aggregator that takes existing info., combines that info. with other publicly available sources then stamps its own name on it and claims it as its own. It’s shameful, really.

• Although this is not our business model I wonder if a tool like our social media monitoring solution could be applied to measuring trends like this. It’s far more real time and the data is an indicator of consumer sentiment and intent prior to a sale. Just a thought.

• Meister & WTF?

If you don’t like VGChartz then by all means don’t use it. I stated that in article.

VGChartz does provide a useful service by compiling the information from multiple sources and putting it in once place. And yes they make estimates. Which both of you mentioned. On Wall Street we combine data from multiple sources all day long — it is called modeling. We take the best of what information is available and create a new piece of data plus or minus our assumptions. On the Internet we combined data from multiple sites and it is called a mashup. Both of these methods are useful and accepted. VGChartz lies somewhere in between.

Any estimate for sales from NPD or VGChartz is just that an estimate. In this business it is very hard to be exact with something like sell through to the consumer. As far as I can remember nobody gets data directly from WalMart. WalMart is 20 – 30% of retail sales in Video Games, which means there is a plug everyone has to make to come up with total sales in North America. That’s a big hole. So nobody is perfect or pristine.

What I can tell you is this, if you use data from VGChartz to forecast sales for an equity model you are in the ballpark and directionally correct, and that is the name of the game.

• meister

Interesting thoughts, Robert. Luckily, I don’t work in the financial services sector.

I hear you but what I said earlier is more about Brett Walton’s integrity than his site’s usefulness. vgchartz.com doesn’t estimate anything. Brett Walton takes other’s estimates and stakes his claim. Of course his current numbers are fairly accurate because he’s stealing it from the firms responsible for tracking it. He has to change it up a bit to keep himself out of legal trouble but it’s still not his data. The last time I checked, theft was illegal. You can sugar coat it all you want by calling it modeling, mana from heaven, or whatever you’d like but without properly citing your sources, you’re essentially stealing.

I work on the marketing team for a major software publisher and every one of the analyst reports we receive cite all of their sources. All of them. vgchartz.com doesn’t. That’s the difference.

I don’t think you understand how this side of the industry works. Wal-Mart doesn’t provide its sales figures to any outside parties but there have been numerous press releases issued from NPD and Wal-Mart about their data sharing agreements (trust me, they send them all to us). I’m sure it’s enough information to make NPD’s vg data damn near perfect. I mean, we rarely, if ever, have to complain about inaccurate sales. What our retail partners tell us is selling and what NPD tells us is so near perfect that we never have to complain. This includes Wal-Mart. Do you ever hear of any publisher or manufacturer bitching about NPD’s “estimates?” No? hmmmmm, some big hole.

• Vagabond

Very good article, Robert. VGchartz is exactly what you describe, not perfect, not the word of the god of numbers, but a good place to go that has it’s own strengths and weaknesses.

The NPD absolutely hates VGchartz, so much so that on multiple occasions (including right now) they have had people that work for them that go to message boards to slander them. Neogaf is one such place, where even mentioning VGchartz or ioi, or Walton will get you instantly banned from their forums. Any time VGchartz is mentioned in a credible piece, inevitably the first comment is by someone who says almost word for word what meister has said here. Though at times he has called Walton a thieving sociopath. Such is the nature of anonymity on the internet.

There is no harm in VGchartz, they do not directly threaten the NPD, and offer a different service in a different capacity. Furthermore their record speaks for itself, making McCarthyistic accusations such as “they lie to the public!!!” kind of pointless. And Also Multiple sources are always taken into consideration in making financial moves, as Robert has pointed out. So rest easy NPD, you don’t have to lash out, you’re not going to be done away with anytime soon. But sometimes even the big boys can act like immature children.

• meister

Grow up Brett! I don’t work for NPD. Unlike you, I don’t lie but perhaps you should come clean on your methodology. Maybe then the McCarthyistic accusations as you so eloquently put it would stop. Oops, that’s right you can’t come clean because in doing so you would expose that massive jugular to feed blood and oxygen to that huge head of yours.

Loser

Not sure where the sociopathic statement comes in but many believe you are one in every sense of the definition. Now I do to.

• Vagabond.

I’m sorry, but I’m not Brett. My name is Jon Houser, I’m just another forum user that keeps tabs on sales data.

I find it ironic that in the same breath you tell me (or at least Brett) to grow up, and call him a loser with a huge head, and a sociopath. You don’t really do yourself or your credibility any favors acting like that everywhere you go, you know.

• rgoo

David/meister

You DO work for NPD. And you speak of smoke and mirrors? Please.

Don’t think it goes unnoticed. Makes you sound, well, desperate.

• meister

Davidmeister? Brett and goo, an extremely appropriate tag to use BTW, please keep going on with your bad selves. What’s wrong? You afraid some real professionals are gonna come knocking, ask you the tough questions and figure out your site is nothing but a hack shop?

I am not going to defend NPD or NEOGAF anymore because frankly they do a god job of handling themselves but who could blame NEOGAF for banning you turds? So why don’t all you vgchartz.com mods keep thse beautiful stabbing messages coming. I’m lovin it!

Don’t think it goes unnoticed? Who cares? vgchartz.com gets press? Who cares?

I am done done done with you sorry excuses for professionals.

• Dave

Robert,

I think you may find that your article could have been well served by performing some due diligence regarding the legitimacy of VGChartz data.

It’s surprising that so many media outlets are so quick to trust an anonymous web source.

The absolute biggest problem with your article is that you’re using NPD as a basis for how well VGChartz does. Of course, they’re going to match quite well because the site changes their numbers every month AFTER the numbers are made public. That is, they change them to match what NPD says they are.

I’m not saying the site is worthless, but you should be extremely careful about what value you attach to their data, especially data that hasn’t yet been revealed via NPD because they are frequently over 50% off. Finally, their historical data isn’t really theres. It’s been massaged to match NPD, so it’s really just a restatement of NPD’s data.

• rgoo

David “meister”,
1. I am neither Brett nor mod on banned sitez. Just a humble professional from the technology industry who happens to read both NEOGAF & banned sitez, as well as other gaming sites that are related to my industry.

2. OBVIOUSLY it is YOU that cares. I see your comments on every article about banned sitez, as well as on GAF, your writing style and talking points give you away.

3. You do get points for using a word I have not used since I was 12 and the word professional in the same post. Here’s a hint…….. the word turd is not only uncool, but it also gives away your approximate age. And that my friend makes you not only unhip, but rushing to smear “smoke and mirrors” makes you more than a tiny bit desperate. If Brett is only smoke and mirrors, just don’t read banned sitez. Funny though, smoke and mirrors is much more accurate than a lot of analysts. Namecalling proves you are not only desperate, but scared as well. You can get some medicine to help you with that, might calm you down a bit.

• DavidRiley

You obviously have missed this from last month:

VG Chartz released their May data weeks before NPD and their preview was shown on other sites like Gamasutra:

Platform VGC NPD
Wii 645,327 675,100
PS3 177,989 208,700
X360 191,992 186,600
PSP 193,188 182,300
DS 454,086 452,600

Now considering the vgcharts data came out BEFORE NPD as reported on various sites then how can they be massaging it or how are they “frequently over 50% off”??

• Jason Lee

An excellent article for those on Wall Street looking to hedge their bets. I think the basic service that something like VGC provides as you mentioned is somewhat closely tracked data points at any given point in time. Even if these points change they are fairly close predictor over time. This kind of information can be very useful indeed. This is a very nice comparison and article in general.

• Molly

Be aware, any info you have received in email I would be very wary. That Dave person sounds like SonyCowboy from the NeoGaf forums. Hence the name and bias that comes with it. However, what you may not know is that he gets all the released NPD data from them every month and posts to that very forum every month. He gets said data every month from them to be able to post the very first NPD data every month. It would behoove him to provide a bias outlook to you on VGC as he has publicly outspoken on this very issue many times before.

• GS

So much passion and so much stupidity all at the same time. meister, I’m with you buddy. I happen to surf all of the sites and I do enjoy all of them, which inclues vgchartz but for its forums not for its data. Let it go because the truth always has a way of bubbling to the surface.

@wtf?, “VGCrapz” = LMAO

@rgoo, “Unhip” = LOL

All of you, the Web gives us the ability to be, say and do almost anything we want without really having to suffer the consequences. That said, know that naming names that can be traced back to you can be considered slander. All of this is well and good but watch with the usage of names without full knowledge of the sender’s identity.

What are the chances that these individuals are who you claim them to be? There are just as many vgchartz haters out there as there are vgchartz members that hate on David Riley. Personally, I feel bad for both of them, especially if this isn’t Riley who is likely to foam at the mouth when he reads this string.

@meister, lay off of Brett.
@Vagabond and @rgoo, lay off of David.

Everyone needs to grow up. Robert’s story is ridiculous and the comparison should never had been made but get over it already. Don’t believe everything you read unless you’ve done your homework.

@ final vgchartz poster (dumb enough to post as @DavidRiley – really not smart), you had a good month on the hardware side but don’t let it go to your head. You are statisticians, right? So you know the numbers will play in your favor on occasion. Not only that but the shipment figures released by the manufacturers were close to estimated sales. IOW, nobody was surprised by May’s sales figures and a phone call to the manufacturers will often give you the numbers you’re looking for. It’s the software that moves this industry. Get the software right. Hell, get it somewhere in the ballpark on a semi-regular basis but do it on your own. Stop saying you’re something you aren’t. Maybe then all of this would end and we could move on.

Be good, be kind, be adults.

• JesM

@GS

1. Remember that vgchartz isn’t trying to match NPD per se, they are trying to offer their own take on what the best selling games and hardware are. We are trying to assert accuracy to reality by comparing to another estimate which isn’t really a smart move since you don’t know where the errors lie.

2. Having said that, numbers for May from vgchartz were spot on with NPD and closer than both Pachter from Wedbush Morgan and Divnich of Eedar – both professional analysts with large pay packets for what they do. They were also closer than Simexchange, the prediction market – many users will of course use vgchartz to assist in the predictions. And still vgchartz, which releases data first, is closest. This is true virtually every month.

Saying that numbers play into your favour now and again is insanity. Why should anyone be able to get close to predicting or estimating something as multi-faceted and complex as videogame market sales numbers? To be even in the right ballpark month on month is an immense achievement, and for literally thousands of skus. All for free.

I think you need to give some credit where credit is due here and recognise just what is being done.

• Sri Lumpa

NPD is definitely afraid of VGChartz because they are disrupting the videogame part of their business, starting with offering a crummy service barely good enough for internet sales data discussion and moving upstream to now offer a service good enough for some Wall street types.

As for VGChartz collecting retailers data or not, I have no privy information that they do or don’t beyond what the site tells us but even if they solely derived their figure from publicly available data (like in-store top ten lists or Amazon top ten lists…) their would be no problem with that as these are publicly available facts and facts are not copyrightable so there still would be no problem.

Plus, given the accuracy they have (not perfect but good enough to discern trends, which is the most important part), if they achieve it without hard data (retailer sales data sampling) it would actually add to their merit as achieveing such ballpark accuracy without hard data would be much harder than with a small representative sample.

• Erik Aston

Disruption is just it, Sri Lumpa. I started looking into disruption as I watched Wii’s success, and VGChartz fits with it pretty well, including the lashing out from NPD.

To make a long story short, VGC has different processes, different motivations and different values than NPD. NPD and their surrogates are unable to respond in any way except flailing, screaming, and running upmarket to their corporate customers.

Timliness and openness are the values which helped VGC first play to the fringe market of forum dwellers who used to hang on NPD numbers, and move up towards journalists and small investors, most of whom were previously non-customers because NPD’s accuracy focus overshot them. NPD values timliness so little they frequently delayed their data in 2007, and they value openness so little they attempted to stop all public data releases in 2007 as well. They are increasingly only concerned about the most upmarket, profitable customers: game publishers and other large corporations.

I’ve been using VGC as my primary source for playing theSimExchange game for over a year, and even without being particularly active, I’m ranked #16 currently.
http://www.thesimexchange.com/rankings-top500.php?pageview=1

I post on the VGC forums as well, as Erik Aston.

• Wow… Just wow…

I have followed console sales for many years since the days of SNES and Megadrive (small snippets here and there – annual reports etc) and all I can say is that VGChartz is a fantastic FREE service with many great authors of interesting articles. After discovering it 2 years ago, I have visited daily. Do they sometimes get it wrong – of course they do. Okami for Wii is a recent example. Are they getting better at modelling – undoubtedly.

Do I still look out for NPD, GFK et al figures – naturally. Because these are still the figures that publishers use, and if I want my console of choice to get more exclusives/cross platform, then the figures need to matter in the official figures.

Everyone needs to take a chill pill. Without VGChartz, my daily fix of number crunching would go unsatisfied and I would need to something useful instead – like work.

• John

Very nice article.

I, like many on VGChartz, like to see the sales numbers of videogames and consoles.
Do I think their numbers are 100% correct: no, but do I need 100% correct sales numbers: again, no.
I want to know whether a game sold 100.000 or 500.000 copies, the rest is unnescessary detail that NPD also can’t offer. Brett has pointed out several times that NPD market coverage is larger than VGChartz’.

But saying VGChartz pulls the numbers out of nowhere is just stupid. If you check the NPD – VGChartz comparisson for May, they’re really close, especially if you consider it’s completely free.
But even if you consider these numbers “off” you can’t deny that the numbers were out BEFORE NPD, so unless Brett works at NPD he could not have stolen their numbers.

I also don’t see where all the negativity is coming from. It’s completely useless to hate on a site you don’t need to use.

meister: come on man, get a grip. You’re taking it way too personal. I don’t know what happened between you and Brett, but please act like an adult and talk it out instead of an online hate campaign that’s starts to become ridiculous.

• The Real McCoy

One could imagine my shock when I was directed to review this particular page. I would laugh if all of this weren’t so sad.

Whomever is posting using my name on this site or any other must cease immediately. I don’t know what’s been going on but I’m beginning to see a disturbing pattern. All of this reeks of a poorly executed smear campaign. Stop throwing my name around in an attempt to further your agenda while souring NPD’s good name. It won’t be tolerated. This is not a game.

Please reach out to me directly if you have anything to ask of me or any comments to make.

• Ann

Hmm, based on this crazy back and forth between these two groups which is clearly evident here I would not be surprised is NPD pulled their data from the public realm for awhile. I believe they were going to do that last November I wouldn’t be shocked if they actually do it this time around.

• Zucas

Really great article because I’m tired of all the hate I see towards VGChartz. As stated its a free site that offers simply a service that is quality for people who don’t want to pay for NPD. And then of course relinquishes all arrogance and compares there numbers to others to make sure there’s is on target. The only way you won’t like VGChartz is if you are a bias 5 yr old, which apparently seems to comprise of a lot of NPD staff and idiotic brainwashed internet goers. Seriously it offers no harm to anyone so how could you possibly dislike it.

It’s really pathetic to see people attack it for no apparent reason simply because they think it’ll take down NPD. Seriously what’s with the false loyalty. Get over it and just accept VGChartz is a quality, free alternative to NPD. It’s not a legitable competition to ever take it down so stop crying. If ya don’t like it shutup and stick with NPD. Otherwise your complaining is about as annoying as the honchos that are scared of VGChartz withing NPD itself.

• Jason Lee

That is an interesting take from all this Ann. One thing NPD could do is hold their data for say 3-6 months. At that point they could release it altogether to the public and if VGC numbers were off by a good bit one could certainly see the issues their fairly easily. For one they would have to back track and correct all their numbers over that time period. It wouldn’t look good on VGC’s part that is for sure.

• BottomLine

The grade level of the vgchartz.com supporters versus that of the anti-vgchartz.com crowd should be clearly evident to you by now.

Let’s not forget how this debate started. It isn’t about how correct vgchartz.com numbers are. No, it is not about correct numbers at all. It is about how vgchartz.com collects this information.

Let’s get beyond the hardware numbers because we all know how easy it is to compile these numbers with some relative accuracy. This is where vgchartz.com hangs its hat and that’s fine for vgchartz.com’s ego. It would be nice for another gaming website to do the same thing but to seek industry support. Doing this would easily make that website alternative the go to site for people in the know. It’s too late for vgchartz.com to even attempt this since not a single research group would extend a finger to help him but I could see someone with honor doing this and being successful.

Looking at the terrible discrepancy between software titles in the Top 10 and then looking at the rest of vgchartz.com’s historical software information, it becomes as clear as crystal what many of you are missing here.

Why is it that vgchartz.com can never get any software numbers even in the ballpark outside of the top selling titles each month? Why is this?

Perhaps it’s because vgchartz.com is using a multitude of sources- – sources that only provide sales figures for the top selling titles each month- -and not properly citing them. Perhaps there is truth to this. Online plagiarism is a growing problem and vgchartz.com is a modern day example of just how prevelant it is. Maybe vgchartz.com is so defensive because it feels the heat- -the pressure to continually deliver based on a totally false methodology. That’s another funny coincidence- -look at vgchartz.com’s methodology then look at methodology sections from other market research firm’s websites. See a connection? I do too.

What if vgchartz.com is using sources like Amazon.com and Famitsu but not giving them proper credit? What would happen to the house of cards then?

• There are considerations that many of the VGC detractors are failing to apply.

They suggest VGC’s software sell through figures are inaccurate but based on what exactly? We don’t have exact numbers. Not NPD, not the publishers, not VGC, no one has them.

Exact accuracy does not exist. Comparing VGC’s numbers against NPD’s numbers is an exercise at finding trees and missing the forest.

Both are extrapolated samples. Accuracy is a matter of sample size, well defined extrapolation algorithms and human error correction.

The supposition that VGC is incorrect based on their variance from NPD is fallacious. Many also forget that NPD is US only while VGC’s American figures are for both continents. In fact, their coverage model is so different that if their numbers were too close, then we’d know there was a problem.

Now let’s expand our focus for a moment. Media Create and Famitsu are often as different percentage wise as VGC and NPD. Why not cry the same foul?

Broadening the scope further we seem to forget GfK, Chart Track and even Dataspelsbranschen. Do they ever bring up such frivolous nonsense against VGC?

• Jayja

“Accuracy is a matter of sample size, well defined extrapolation algorithms and human error correction.” hahahahaha

“variance from NPD is fallacious” hahahahahaha

there are considerations that vgc detractors want you to get through your thick skull and that’s that vgc isn’t telling the truth.

geeze you would think you would get the whole gist of these posts by now.

next time you pull gaffers into this you will be barraged with similar posts to nail you all to the cross you have erected for yourselves.

and yes gfk and charttrack do complain about you but there simply is no comparing vgc to the likes of gfk and npd and charttrack. get over it and come out of the closet before you are forced out.

• You bring absolutely nothing new to the debate. Your reiteration of ignorant panderings suggest you have no desire to consider truth and have accepted what NPD are others even more ignorant have bestowed upon the public.

GfK and Chart Track do not complain such as NPD has. And why would they? Unlike NPD, they don’t charge $20,000.00 USD for a simple US only monthly sales report. It is amazing how deep rooted the crab-in-the-box mentality has become. When one of small means and big purpose exploits and idea it is immediately rejected by those already in power as false, fake, inaccurate, illegal, stolen, etc….anything to protect their own income stream and client base, Be objective. Ask yourself if what NPD and NeoGAF claims are the absolute truth or are they assuming and/or manipulating? Are they being truthful or are you just agreeing and assuming with no actual facts observed yourself? You may bring forth as many “gaffers” as you wish but truth is not validated among a matter of masses. Truth is one against any adversity. Ultimately the detractors will either come to know their folly through object research and understanding or remain ignorant and eat from the fruit that feeds them. • Zucas Jayja- stop acting like such a prick. Once again it goes back to the whole purpose of this article. VGC is free and non competitive as a business. So why the fuck does it matter to you what there numbers say. If you think NPD is more right then that’s fucking great. Otherwise keep your bullshit about VGC to yourself cause I’m personally tired of degenerates such as yourself wasting time trying to bring NOTHING down. Secondly there is no 100% accuracy in this business. Hell NPD doesn’t even track one of the largest retailers in America for gaming, Wal-Mart. They have extrapolate the numbers just like VGC does. Yes we all know NPD has a larger sample size than VGC yet still this makes none other more right than the other. Hell I could go out on a limb and guess the sales of one game in a month and what if I came withing 95% accuracy to the sales. Well to you apparently we should go off my psychic analytical ability and fuck the rest of them. Point taken so I suggest you look at your NPD numbers and go off them and keep the rest of your nonsensical bullshit to yourself. VGC is a free site that isn’t trying to fool people or take NPD down. It simply offers a quality alternative to people who simply want to see game stats. It’s not going to be 100% correct, and the site tells ya this. So go bitch about some game you hate or go bitch about some console you hate. At least you’ll get owned respectively there. • Erik Aston It isn’t about accuracy. VGC only needs very, VERY basic accuracy. It relies on getting the numbers out faster, and having a community to openly discuss them. These are not a substitute for accuracy, they are different values entirely. If you’re a forum dweller interested in game sales, your pre-VGC option was to cobble numbers together from across the world, and in the case of the US, have only the top ten SKUs, released 2-7 weeks later. With VGC, you have new numbers every week and a big database and 1000 other fans dissecting everything. Better accuracy from NPD a month later cannot compete. As VGC improved, it moved upmarket. If you’re an investor, your old option was again to cobble together WW numbers and sit on your hands waiting for US numbers. Now if game X sells 60K, and VGC reports 100K, that’s good enough if expectations were 250K. Add to that a community which quickly finds pertinent inaccuracies, monthly comparisons with NPD, etc, and you can form a feel for what you can trust. Better accuracy from NPD a month later cannot compete. As the original piece states, NPD is still the benchmark or “consensus source” for accuracy. But for the here and now, you can’t use a source which isn’t here now. VGC, whether ioi himself wants to admit it, succeeds specifically because it doesn’t compete over accuracy. If VGC tries to compete over accuracy, it will result in slower numbers and a stricter, doubt squashing forum, which would, in short, destroy the site. Of course, VGC should actively work to improve accuracy, but it should not be their core value. • skirting the issue at hand npd charges$20,000 for a monthly report? That is definitely news to me and news that, like vgchartz, isn’t factual.

we are not talking about accuracy we are talking about ioi’s manipulation of the truth. saying something he’s not. that’s the matter at hand, not about vgchartz’s accuracy. you vgchartz mods can keep coming back and skirting the issue but the facts are the facts. ioi is a thief and his lackeys are blind.

• 1. That was what NPD told me when I contacted them 5 years ago to purchase their monthly video game data. They also told me they do not sell the data to the media. So I was stopped on two fronts.

2. I have no professional affiliation with VGC at all.

3. Unlike yourself and many others, I’m actually identifying myself (note the blue name) via one of the organizations I do have a professional affiliation with whereas anonymity is your safety net.

4. Can you verify this manipulation or are you just going to present assumptions and hearsay like the others before you? I don’t think you can else you would done so instead of rambling on. Point being, bring the facts or keep it shut.

• skirting the issue at hand

click on Viper and I’m taken to e-mpire. so much for actually identifying yourself. i would do the same thing and you would end up on my main message board. how does that identify yourself?

we do not pay $20,000 a month for our contract. you are wrong or npd didn’t want to deal with you. either way you are wrong but get yourself schooled. the facts were identified earlier from mister and i believe them if only because i’m close enough to my retailers to know with 100% certainty that they don’t give anything to ioi. over time i have asked all of them and they just laugh or have no idea what it is. and i have always wondered why ioi’s charts almost always match amazon.coms listings. now it has been confirmed. we all know the truth will win out in the end. • over time i have asked all of them and they just laugh or have no idea what it is. Gamestop has over 4400 stores worldwide, most of which are in the US. Target has an additional 1500 stores in the US. These are ONLY 2 retailers out of the entire spectrum of places that sell video games, and already we’re at 6000 stores (ok, 5900 – sue me). Do you honestly expect anyone to believe you when you say you’ve talked to all of them? • It’s identification because my name and occupation are readily available via the link. Point being I don’t hide behind anonymity. Lol, I didn’t say$20k per month, I said \$20k for the monthly sales data. Key word is “monthly” which implies more than one month likely on a successive continual basis. The irony of your ‘school’ comment is worthy of a good chuckle especially when taken astride with your syntax, grammar and punctuation skills.

Facts were not identified, assumptions were postulated. Learn the difference. Once again I suggest your provide evidence and facts instead of disseminated conspiracy and suppositions.

So you have your own message board, are close to numerous retailers (globally should I presume?) yet you compose your comments with the formality of a kid still in high school. Even, and this is playing devils advocate, if you are correct you are harming the side of NPD more than you are helping them due to your presentation.

Amazons numbers, huh? Can you show me where they provide weekly sales numbers? I’m only familiar with their sales trends presented in rank form updated on an hourly basis.

• apujanata

Lots of nice comments on this page. I just wanted to comment on something that Erik Aston has said regarding VGC :
“I’ve been using VGC as my primary source for playing theSimExchange game for over a year, and even without being particularly active, I’m ranked #16 currently.
http://www.thesimexchange.com/rankings-top500.php?pageview=1
I post on the VGC forums as well, as Erik Aston.”

For readers information, I DIDN’T use VGC as source for playing SimExchange. I started around Dec 4, 2008, and I am now Rank #15 (one rank above Erik Aston). I am also registered at VGC (id #4), but I am not active there (barely post, and didn’t go to VGC daily, weekly or even monthly).

I usually don’t post this kind of info, since it might made people think I am bragging, but I wanted to made sure that [b]using VGC really help in winning in simExchange[/b] perception that Erik Aston post might cause reader to infer is debunked/cleared up. I am proof that one does not have to rely on VGC data to win big on simExchange. I do have NPD data, back when NPD data was leaked freely (2004 – early 2007, all game, not just Top 10 Monthly), and I collected them through NeoGAF forum.

Of course, I am more active than Erik Aston, but I am sure the fact that he join much earlier than me (his id is 3286, while mine is 7189) can compensate for the 4.5 Million DKP difference in community bonus that I have enjoyed (and he didn’t enjoyed yet).

• Simon Carless

Robert, hope you’re still reading past these flamewars. I’m the publisher of Game Developer magazine and Gamasutra.com, and a previous O’Reilly author (Gaming Hacks).

I just wrote a detailed piece for our GameSetWatch weblog on why I feel that citing VGChartz is not necessarily a good idea:

I love the concept of VGChartz, but the fudging of numbers and lack of genuine retail insight at lower sales levels makes it surprisingly inaccurate for many games.

• Joe

Some say Brett is a liar and that he just guesses numbers and etc etc. Well I can tell you that he doesn’t make up all his numbers because I’m a retailer and I give him my weekly numbers so I know he’s getting some data. I’m not a large retailer but he’s getting numbers from real actual sales.

• skirting the issue at hand

Joe, b.s. So sorry but you’re filling us with b.s. Nice try though.

I love the concept of vgchartz too but I also love the concept of getting something for nothing. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a free ride.

Robert Passarella, maybe you should practice diligence before declaring souces like vgchartz as the be all, end all. One thing that bothered me about your story more than anything else is when you wrote “There is community that has arisen around the numbers; that is willing to have an open exchange about the short comings, and methodologies in VGChartz’s multiple forums. You really don’t get that with NPD.”

This is simply false. There is no willingness within the vgchartz comunity to have an open and honest debate about how vgchartz compiles its numbers. I’ve tried to debate this on the site only to be banned. How is this an open exchange?

• apujanata

skirting the issue at hand,

Why don’t you give us the URL of the “tried to debate this on the site (VGC)”, together with your user id on that forum, focusing on your banning process ? VGCers always said that they don’t ban people for having differing opinion, so It should be interesting to have a contrary proof.

Posts on VGC that mentioned that (no banning for disagreeing with their #):

• skirting the issue at hand

I’m sorry but I am not a vgchartz site moderator and as such don’t keep old links or frequent vgchartz anymore. To prove a point I will go back on that site and attempt to look up my old posts but I can tell you that I’m not lying and that I have been banned for questioning the validity of Brett’s numbers. In fact, the last time I posted on there, my posts were completely removed from a string after I demanded to know about how Brett obtained his numbers.

Like it or not, this is the truth.

• Anonymous

Don’t retailers track all their sales in their computer systems? And who has access to that confidential information, so that the hard data can be compiled? Certainly not a website like VGChartz. That’s all I’m going to say.

• Skirting the issue at hand, I don’t think Robert made such as claim as you presented: the be all, end all. His take is that they simply offer something useful that NPD doesn’t.

You also failed to understand their business model. The information is not free. It is paid for via web site advertising instead of client subscriptions.

While you may have been subjected to harsh treatment at VGC, it is unknown how you presented your case against VGC. If it mirrors the manner you present here, I can see why an administrator or moderator felt you were not enhancing the quality of debate on the site.

Let’s not forget the last portion of that comment. Where exactly is NPD’s community? Outsid eof formal communication channels, NeoGAF seems like it’s as close as you get and they are far more oppressive than VGC.

• Srilumpa

Apujanata, what is it exactly that you think you debunked? Erik said that VGChartz helped HIM get to its ranking in TheSimeExchange. he didn’t claim it would help anyone else even less everyone else let alone claim that there was no other possible way to perform well on TheSimsExchange so it looks like all you debunked was some anthropomorphic hay.

• Jason

@Simon

Sounds like your piece is a little too one sided I would say. This write up is a much better one in my opinion because all of the aspects of each group is examined carefully. You can try to focus in on one thing here of their, but overall I think this is a much more solid piece for those in the market.

• Tangled Web

I find it ironic that an alleged researcher in equities didn’t have the know-how or gumption to do proper research behind VGchartz before going through the trouble of writing and publishing this story. It’s done more harm than good. Now reporters are crawling out of the woodwork.

• Jwalker and others. The post I wrote succeed in its intend purpose, which was to make people aware that VGChartz is a source you should look at. I also mentioned, clearly, that it was up to the user to make his own decision on how he wishes to use it. Take it or leave it. For me, it still stands as a valuable source for the reasons I mentioned. Making ad hominem attacks, only weakens any good points you may have. The spirit of commentary is so that others can share their opinions on a subject and not their skills in name calling. And as for having reporters picking up the story –why isn’t that a good thing? Let them ask questions too. If it makes the process of gathering information for all providers better, both VGChartz & NPD, so be it. Imagine what NPD would be like if it opened up some of its information and fostered a community — wouldn’t that be a great way to compete with VGChartz?

• gms

Holy cow, you are as naive as your article led us to believe. Good luck ………. you’ll be needing it.

• Interesting.

Robert writes an article show piecing a research and analysis tool and suggest accuracy and use are at the mercy of the researcher/analyst and he’s being chided for it?

And those that claim the data to be invalid have provided no proof of the matter. Mostly assumptions because so and so told them so. Because NPD said so. Because they refuse to accept someone had a good idea and has executed on it. Or because there is a fanboy battle between communities.

Simon Carless at least tried to bring facts but targeting only a few titles, most notably in the incredibly difficult to track low volume sales sector, hasn’t really given the detractors any more ammo to shoot with. Simon, perhaps you’d be willing to share with us the number of titles they had accurate instead of how many they had inaccurate. Of course the semantics of accurate come into play since we don’t have actual facts to compare to.

It’s such a curious gesture that VGC, and now even Robert, are being attacked with hollow words. So many are suggesting VGC has no proof while ironically so many have no proof of their own to validate their assumptions.

B: Prove I’m wrong.

If I recall in legal terms that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. Those that claim VGC is a fraud have the burden to prove their allegations, not the other way around.

• and to all a good night

an email has been going around supposed from someone close to ioi claiming it was from ioi himself to npd. who knows why ioi sent it around afterwards and why ioi didnt keep it closer to him but i called npd to ask if it was legit and all they said to me was that they will not comment on personal emails. that was enough for me to believe it is legit. much of it doesnt make sense but part of that email reads as follows. you want proof here it is and straight from the horses mouth.
:
All of our figures are essentially “guesstimates”, made by a team of people who have extensive experience at monitoring sales figures and using indicators such as positions on Amazon charts, public bestsellers lists online and at stores like Walmart, Target, Gamecrazy etc and so on. All of our data is above board and legal – we basically fit data to chart positions and using historical information for reference. The constant slander that we are doing something illegal by your senior marketing manager is totally unacceptable. At a push, I’d agree we are maybe a little complimentary to ourselves saying we collect data from retailers – in reality we use public chart positions / press releases / our own estimates to come up with figures as well as our own store on the site. So we are collecting retailer data in effect but not actual figures and nothing which would breach any of your contracts.

• Look up the term hearsay for me please.

Then look up common policies on public proclamation of private affairs.

After you’ve done some homework, ask yourself the following: Are people really going to believe that I can call the exact same person at NPD that received the alleged e-mail? Or would NPD’s PR contact even be familiar with such a personal e-mail?

Have people forgotten what facts and evidence pertain to in this country?

• LOL @ Viper

Nobody in the good old USA has forgotten about what facts and evidence pertain to but something tells me that this isn’t the case in the UK. This is where ioi is living is it not? And what about common policies on public proclamation of private affairs? Your boy ioi sure doesnt seem to adhere to any of the ethics you appear to hold so near and dear to your heart. LOL. I practically busted a nut when I read your response.

• And I’m having a good chuckle regarding your retort.
“…busted a nut”, as you so brusquely stated.

I think it’s clear I’m debating kids (or the intellectual equivalent) and as is usually the case they know everything and everyone and displace context and circumstance with straw man tactics and irrelevant disputations.

Robert, much appreciative of the open minded article. I’ve been using VGC as a sample for modeling for a while now and it’s a very impressive tool set for what it is. A pity detractors cannot accept as much.

• colletor

Viper your use of those .75 words is admirable but it does get boring. Irrelevant disputations? Hardly.

I want to know the facts behind the VGCHARTZ site. As a user, it’s imperative that the truth be revealed to us. Is The Source pulling my leg? Is it a proper measure? Carless may be onto something. More digging needs to be done. This is far from over.

• Casey

VGChartz to be taken seriously has to reveal how they compile their information. Claiming unnamed industry sources and publicly released data is not good enough. The burden of proof is on them, not on anyone questioning the validity of their data.

• Activisiting

VGchartz.com’s story is a sad one indeed and one not worth telling ad nauseum but what most concerns me is that institutions might actually be using it just as the author claims to be.
The available “data” on most of my company’s titles are off by an alarming percentage. We have never given it a thought but if investors are using this site then we have good reason to be alarmed.
I couldn’t help but notice that the site coordinator is now posting videos but not crediting the providers . It makes one wonder if VGchartz.com can continue to get away with doing things like this.

• anonymous

@ Meister & Kie

Can NPD give the data in a format like VG Chartz? NO?

VG chartz at least give the data in useable form, geustimate or not. Nice graph comparisons. We know it is gestimates and predictions, so is any gambling, therefore it makes nice fodder for flamebait! The data are then corrected by VG afterwards which gives nice historical comparison capabilities over time. Thus go blow your nose and wipe your @rse OR blow your @rse and wipe your nose. Both ways, go to hell you and all dishing VG chartz.