What Are NPD Numbers?

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I’m writing this for my people who don’t quite get the sales chart jargon thrown around the game industry. I had a discussion on game sales with a group of friends who had no idea what NPD numbers were, so I knew immediately there were a few of you who visited this site who kind of got lost in the sauce every time The Koalition posted them. Every month there’s a sales chart released by a research company called the NPD Group (National Purchase Diary). To gamers the most famous service provided by the NPD Group of course, are the retail sales tracking of the video game industry. It has become so celebrated that people just refer to them as “the npd’s”. So the next time you hear someone say “Halo sold more games than Forza, just check the npd’s”, you should understand them from this point on. I also should state the NPD numbers are for and from the United States region only.

So What Exactly Do The NPD’s Show?

It shows the number of hardware aka consoles/handhelds sold in one month. Heres an example of what hardware numbers would look like. From September 2009:

Hardware
PlayStation 2 146.0K
PlayStation 3 491.8K
PSP 190.4K
Xbox 360 352.6K
Wii 462.8K
Nintendo DS 524.2K

As you can see, it has the console listed with the number of units it moved next to them. Pretty simple to get, a caveman could read it. It also showcases the top selling software aka games that sold that month. Here is an example from September 2009 of software sales:

Software
1. HALO 3:ODST (360) 1.52M
2. WII SPORTS RESORT (WII) 442.9K
3. MADDEN NFL 10 (360) 289.6K
4. MARIO & LUIGI:BOWSER’S INSIDE STORY (NDS) 258.1K
5. THE BEATLES:ROCK BAND* (360) 254.0K
6. MADDEN NFL 10 (PS3) 246.5K
7. MARVEL:ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 2 (360) 236.0K
8. BATMAN:ARKHAM ASYLUM* (PS3) 212.5K
9. GUITAR HERO 5* (360) 210.8K
10. THE BEATLES:ROCK BAND* (WII) 208.6K

This one is only slightly different, but yet still simple shit. Next to each game it has the consoles tag so you can tell them apart. So it’s obvious that Madden NFL 10 sold more on the 360 than the PS3. From these numbers developers and analyst can come up with whatever it is they come up with in there own internal research. But damn, gamers are another story.

Debates & Fanboys

On forums, podcasts, and blogs gamers debate NPD numbers monthly. Some people reveal the inner fanboy and brag about what console sold the most, almost as if they were getting paid for it. They make up names for each other such as “xbot” and “sony pony” to degrade the next man. Everybody becomes a mini Michael Patcher and gives personal analytics on why the 360 failed to outsell Ps3? Or why the Wii has not lost any momentum yet? Some argue that numbers ruined the industry from the fan standpoint. Some see it as adding fuel to the conversation which keeps the game industry exciting and entertaining off the controller. Either way, its your turn now. When the next NPD numbers come out, give us your opinion on it. We’d love to disagree with you.

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