[casual_games] Top Download List

Phil Steinmeyer psteinmeyer at newcrayon.com
Wed Jan 18 12:46:59 EST 2006

I think with only one portal, the results would be wildly unrepresentative.

But, you don't need every portal to get a good sample of the market.

If we assume that the top 6-10 portals represent, say 70%+ of the market, 
you probably only need about 4 portals reporting to extrapolate good data, 
ASSUMING that some of the developers also share data with the reporting 

The 4 reporting portals disclose to the tracking firm that Game X has sold 
22,142 copies over a given period of time.

The developer, who has access to sales data from all sources (including 
their own website), discloses that Game X sold 35,402 copies (across ALL 
on-line channels), in that time.

The tracking firm computes that for Game X, the reporting portals constitute 
62.5% of the market for Game X.  But the firm also averages this with 
reports on other games and developers (not all games will sell equal 
percentages via the different channels), and determines that overall, the 
reporting portals constitute 59.3% of the market.  Then the reporting firm 
can say estimate the total sales for any given game as

Reported sales * (1/.593)

arriving at a fairly meaningful 'total sales' figure.  This is probably 
similar to what NPD, Billboard, and the movie industry do.  All it takes is 
3-5 reporting portals and 3-5 reporting developer/publishers, and you should 
have reasonably accurate figures.  And only the independent agency sees the 
specific reported #s or even knows market share percentages of any given 
portal (though a portal could determine it's own market share by dividing 
it's sales by the projected total market sales).

The percentage that the reporting portals represent must be recomputed 
periodically, as portals gain/lose share and/or new portals start submitting 

This way:
Everyone knows how big the market is, and how fast it's growing.
Everyone knows what the true hit games are, and how much revenue/sales 
they're doing

Both of the above are helpful for business purposes and PR purposes.

In addition, every player can compare their internal numbers against the 
industry numbers and see how they're doing vis-a-vis the industry as a 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jason Willig" <jwillig at bigtopgames.com>
To: "'IGDA Casual Games SIG Mailing List'" <casual_games at igda.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 11:35 AM
Subject: RE: [casual_games] Top Download List

> Sorry, not a portal response, but perhaps a work-around (which I'm sure 
> some
> folks are already using in some form or another).
> Even with a relatively small sample of sales data (from a single portal or
> other reliable source representing a sizable percentage of the market, say
> 15%-25%), it would probably be possible to create a reasonably reliable 
> tool
> for tracking directional sales of online games. After all, NPD does not
> reflect actual sell-thru, but rather an extrapolation of retail sales from 
> a
> "statistically reliable" sample (for example, Wal-Mart -- which represents
> ~30% of a typical games retail sales -- does not report to NPD so they 
> have
> to account for that gap by extrapolating their data).
> One major caveat: it might not make sense to capture every game on the
> market (issue of diminishing returns...I'd focus on the top 50) and would
> probably have a fairly wide margin of error relative to actual sales.
> However, over time the margin could be reduced as the assumptions get
> refined and it would offer reasonable, comparative information on a title 
> by
> title basis, which I think is quite valuable. Please keep in mind that any
> tool like this is going to have certain fundamental flaws, specifically
> inaccurate assumptions or changing market conditions which are not 
> accounted
> for in the calculation.
> The key factors to such a tool, I think, is (1) a reliable, accurate
> benchmark sample, (2) a transparent & defensible formula, (3) mutually
> agreed upon assumptions and -- most importantly (4) data security for 
> those
> providing the information. Seems like if we can find a willing participant
> each of these is relatively straightforward to ensure...
> For example:
> Portal A provides sales information for their top 50 games (downloads &
> sell-thru),
> We assume Portal A represents X% of the total download market
> Market share percentages are assigned to Portals B, C, D & E as well as
> secondary players & alternative distributors (obviously, adding up to 
> 100%)
> Weight each of those with a margin of error % (i.e. "I'm X% confident in
> these assumptions")
> Use a website traffic tracking tool (such as http://www.alexa.com/) as 
> some
> type of sanity check and possibly an additional weighting criteria
> Cross-reference against macro-level growth trends (like the IDC report 
> from
> last year) to make sure the # 's are generally in-line w/ these projects 
> (as
> an additional sanity check)
> And there you go...
> I've spent many an hour crunching these types of numbers and would be 
> happy
> to volunteer to put something together.
> Jason Willig
> voice: 206-650-2272
> fax: 206-260-1376
> jwillig at bigtopgames.com
> Big Top Games
> 1511 3rd Avenue
> Suite 531
> Seattle, WA 98101
> -----Original Message-----
> From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org [mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org]
> On Behalf Of Chris Early
> Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 8:14 AM
> To: IGDA Casual Games SIG Mailing List
> Subject: RE: [casual_games] Top Download List
> For the record, I'd be willing to support aggregated reporting, once the
> issue of a professional independent third party is resolved.  (Brian's 
> issue
> #2 below) When NPD or Billboard or the like is ready to do this, then we 
> are
> willing to participate.  My primary concern is the security and anonymity 
> of
> the data.
> I don't agree that there is no immediate reason to report their numbers.
> (Brian's point #1 below) I would like to have aggregated numbers, so to 
> get
> them I would disclose.  And that is for my own uses, let alone the benefit
> that would accrue from the industry-wide attention it would generate.
> I would be surprised if the other portals did not feel the same way.
> Any of them care to chime in?
> -Chris
> -------------------------------------
> Chris Early
> Studio Manager
> Microsoft Casual Games
> Voice: (425) 705-6513
> Fax: (425) 926-7329
> Chris.Early at microsoft.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org
> [mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org] On Behalf Of Brian Robbins
> Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 5:47 AM
> To: IGDA Casual Games SIG Mailing List
> Subject: Re: [casual_games] Top Download List
> Thanks everyone for the great discussion on this. As a SIG our goal is to
> meet the needs and desires of the community, and discussions like this are
> what help us know exactly what all of you are looking for.
> We are currently working towards a goal of having download or sales 
> numbers
> aggregated across portals, although this is a long-term process. Right now
> the first step is creating a universal data reporting format that all the
> players in the space can support. James Gwertzman is working on this with 
> a
> small group of volunteers.
> As this format begins to gain acceptance it will make a lot of things much
> easier for everyone. It will help reduce the delay and errors currently in
> tracking sales and revenue for developers. Instead of having to type 
> things
> into Excel by hand, you will be able to use a tool to automatically import
> your actual data. Over time we hope that this will enable a shorter delay 
> in
> sales reporting from portal through to developer, with an eventual goal of
> near real-time sales reports.
> Another long-term goal for this standard is that it would dramatically 
> lower
> the barrier for creating an inustry-wide sales report.
> As I see it there are a few problems with establishing an industry-wide
> numbers, most of which have already been touched on:
> 1 - Right now there is no immediate reason for anyone in the space to 
> report
> their numbers. As a group, if we all do it can start to generate a
> significant long-term press and focus on this space, but the short-term
> benefits are nearly non-existent to established players.
> 2 - There is no indepent 3rd party who is currently setup to take on this
> type of project. While it is a great idea in theory, in practice I do not
> think this is something a small group of independents could or should get
> involved in. In order to verify the integrity of the entire process the
> group needs to be completely independent and have the resources to 
> safeguard
> any proprietary information, only releasing the numbers in aggregate. I
> don't see a small group of volunteers being able to establish appropriate
> safeguards and trust to do this.
> 3 - If this does start to get off the ground, we get back to the debate of
> what should and should not be included. It's easy to say that all the
> portals should be, but what about Wal-Mart and Best Buy?
> There's a not insignificant amount of casual games being sold through the
> traditional retail channel.
> I do think that all of these are solvable issues, and it is a long-term
> process which we are only starting with today. The biggest and most
> important thing to making sure this happens is having the desire and 
> support
> within the community for it. We seem to have that today, and I'm hopeful 
> we
> can use that to keep this moving forward.
> Also, I do not think the so-called "prisoners dilemma" will be an issue. 
> As
> this begins to take off checks and balances will need to be implemented to
> minimize the chances of this happening, and allow any discrepancies to be
> caught and weeded out quickly. In the end if we cannot trust that anyone 
> is
> providing truthful numbers then the entire idea of this is sunk before we
> get started.
> --
> Brian Robbins
> Director Online Gaming, Fuel Industries
> http://www.fuelgames.com/blog/
> Chair, IGDA Online Games SIG and Casual Games SIG
> http://www.igda.org/online/   http://www.igda.org/casual/
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