In the last year research firm NPD Group has drawn a curtain of secrecy on its retail and digital sales data. As a result, journalists no longer have access to hard numbers. Now journalists must rely on the kindness of hardware manufacturers, publishers and the NPD's general top ten lists to figure out what the top selling games are from month to month. Analysts enjoy more access to that data, but it looks like NPD is tightening security even among that class.
"NPD would appreciate it if you and your teams refrain from providing any of our Games data directly to the media," read an email from NPD executive director of client development Daniel De Pinho to Wedbush industry analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush. "This includes live discussions, e-mails, and/or notes. In some cases, you may have to remove the media from your distribution list. Should the media take issue with this, you can feel free to send them my contact information, and I can connect them with the appropriate NPD representative."
Naturally Pachter released the email to the public but also said that he would comply with NPD's latest request. The main reason NPD has applied all these restrictions in the last year is because it wants to sell its data to clients in the video game industry. By keeping stuff like unit sales under wraps, the company has an easier time getting clients to buy its research data.
Perhaps NPD has forgotten that it was the media that put them on the map in first place; if web sites like GameSpot, IGN, and more hadn't regularly featured NPD numbers on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, where would they be?
Interestingly, a follow-up statement to Gamasutra from NPD tries to paint a different picture:
UPDATE: Contacted by Gamasutra, NPD Group said that the organization is not trying to "freeze out the media" by taking control of the monthly data.
The company explained its stance in an emailed statement: "We have heard from our clients and retail partners that NPD information is increasingly out in the public domain without proper attribution, incorrect context and in other ways that is not in the best interest of our clients or the industry. It is our responsibility and right to manage the usage of that information, and our Financial Services clients have agreed to help us and the industry in this regard."
The statement added, "There was no 'warning' issued at all. We are not freezing out the media as it has been portrayed. Instead, we are looking to work even more directly with the media than we already do to ensure our information and insights are used responsibly."]
Media outlets around the world would strongly disagree with what the group is saying here..