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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The NPD Group's Methods Are Offensive

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I'm disappointed in NPD Group's methodology.

Since we somehow went a whole year on KoopaTV without talking about The NPD Group, they're the guys who publish sales data on a lot of industries in the USA, including the videogame industry. It's how we know what goes on every month. They also do some marketing research.

One such bit of marketing research is a new report stating that there are 34 million "core" gamers who play an average of 22 hours a week playing videogames, and 74% prefer physical distribution over digital. A "core" gamer is defined as:

These 34 million core gamers, defined for this report as those individuals who play video games five or more hours a week on a PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, or Mac, and who play Action, Adventure, Fighting, Flight, Massively Multi-Player, Racing, Real Time Strategy, Role-Playing, Shooter, or Sport genres on any of those devices. 
Let's look at that definition. Notice important things missing? Like, I don't know, any Nintendo systems? Apparently, if you play Pokémon X 5 hours a day on your 3DS, you're not a core gamer. If you play competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee, you're not a core gamer. But if you're a drooling World of Warcraft junkie, then yeah, you're a core gamer. That's absolute nonsense. And who the hell plays games on the Mac? How is a Mac more "core" than a 3DS or Wii U? 

It's insulting to group Nintendo's systems with mobile gaming and the PlayStation Vita. But that's not the worst of it, somehow.
"Methodology
The survey completed by 7,927 US representative individuals age 9+ between march 10-28, 2014. For children age 9-17, respondents were contacted using a parental surrogate, with the parent being asked to bring the child to the computer to answer the survey questions."
They're interviewing 9-year olds?! These are the core gamers?! I mean, I guess they have the most free time, but still! What do 9-year olds even play? Probably Nintendo consoles or some abomination on their computer or tablet. You know these kids have tablets for some reason. And smartphones. I don't even have a smartphone. Anyway, Nintendo consoles. But no, those apparently don't count. And I guess NPD is extrapolating their "representative individuals" to the whole USA for 34 million.
"While core gamers are most likely to play on consoles and computers simply based on the definition of the core gamer, phones and mobile devices are also a popular method of play by two-thirds of these gamers."
Come on, this is like the media ignoring Ron Paul here. Core gamers, by definition, play on computers and consoles made specifically by Microsoft and Sony, but they also play on phones and mobile gamers! WHAT ABOUT HANDHELDS? WHAT ABOUT NINTENDO CONSOLES?

The other big point here is the upward trend in preference for digital downloads. It's 26% now, but it was 21% before. That's going up. Personally? I'm part of the 74% who prefers physical. I'm not so radical that I would boycott, say, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies for being digital-only, but it is something I prefer. I consider me downloading Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze from the eShop instead of buying a digital copy to be a mistake. This is contrary to what my colleague RawkHawk2010 wrote many months ago in his article. Why was it a mistake? It takes up a lot more internal space for obvious reasons, and buying an external hard drive is an added investment that I don't want to make. For small purchases like Virtual Console games it's not a big deal. For large purchases of several GB in size, yeah, you run out of space quickly. I'm actually more surprised that the 74% is so high. It's somewhat consistent with this GameFAQs poll that console gamers prefer physical copies.

Grouping PC gamers and console gamers together on this is bad statistics. PC gamers have a massive difference in preferring downloading things than console gamers. They skew things heavily. NPD wants to create an average here, but it's an average of extremes that apparently ignores a whole major console manufacturer that is not useful for anybody.


Ludwig is still proud to be a core gamer via his Nintendo consoles, doing so since the NES. You can Follow him on Miiverse at NNID PrinceOfKoopas.

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