Posted on June 23, 2008,

VG Chartz: A Bunch of Lucky Guessers?

I’ve previously expressed my disdain for numbers cited as coming from VG Chartz, the videogame industry sales-tracking website, calling it “unreliable.” Given the amount of attention it’s been getting — the site has been sourced by publications like Forbes and The New York Times — Gamasutra’s Simon Carless dug into the website a bit to find out exactly how it obtains the numbers it shares. Here are a few choice excerpts from the piece, which you can read in its entirety right here.

…if they are sufficiently out, then VGChartz will retrofit their results – either weekly or monthly – to conform to the more ‘official’ data. But they won’t credit those firms as the source of the retrofitting – they’ll just bump their numbers around without saying why on the site.

…Let’s be clear. I think the concept behind VGChartz is a wonderful one – freely available data to let everyone see how well games are selling. And it’s absolutely true that all data is an estimate – not even major services such as Media Create and NPD get it exactly right.

But VGChartz is staffed by amateurs working in their spare time to estimate sales, and while they are perfectly smart, they are much closer to the SimExchange model of estimation than the Media Create method.

… [Site creator Brett] Walton freely admits the [MGS4] numbers were based on zero actual data for the entire European market, just pure extrapolation. It’s also very unclear how far the estimates for launch were based on real retail data for Japan and North America.

It’s a reasonable figure, of course, because the VGChartz folks are smart people. But it’s not a real figure. It’s a educated guesstimate, and it’s much more of an estimate than the subsequent Chart Track data for the UK, for example.

I don’t have some agenda against the site, as I’m sure someone will accuse me of, but I’ve always taken issue with numbers from the site being taken as absolute canon, or as a complete equivalent to groups such as the NPD. Walton claims that early sales numbers will be labeled accordingly, in response to Carless taking issue with the way the site marketed its MGS4 numbers. But is that really enough?

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5 Comments on VG Chartz: A Bunch of Lucky Guessers?

Random

On June 23, 2008 at 4:20 pm

LOLps3… joke console. Terrible games with bad online experience. And yes i do own one STFU fan boys.

Used Cisco

On June 23, 2008 at 4:26 pm

No question, VGchartz are estimates, but here’s the deal. They are the best, most accurate and most consistent estimates out there. NPD numbers are “official” but even those are still estimates. VGchartz is VERY close to NPDs and are ALWAYS better than other estimates out there. And to my experience, they always give explanations if they correct their numbers. This guy must not read the site regularly. They give indepth comparisons between their numbers and NPD and always explain (or at least try to) the differences and where VGC miscalculated. I’ve been very impressed with VGC and honestly don’t understand why people have a problem with the site. Clearly they are guys working in their spare time but they do a very good job and are pretty honest when it comes to their estimates.

housemaster

On June 23, 2008 at 5:05 pm

That’s an old picture.

Norbit

On June 23, 2008 at 5:28 pm

@ Used Cisco

I agree with you totally. They are estimates and they are sometimes way off but they are the best there is and because of that they should be encouraged not attacked at every opportunity.

Basically there are a lot of gamers who use NeoGaf who have a real agenda against VGChartz.

The article that guy wrote is pretty pathetic because he chose the worst possible examples of where VGchartz got it way off and completely ignored all the times where they get it within 10% or so, which is most of the time. As long as people realise the numbers are estimates the site is very handy for giving indications and seeing as the old data is updated and corrected when figures become available its alos very useful for digging up old stats.

BTW if you want an example of how dumb the article is just look at the bit about the game Ben 10 where he says that VGchartz have its lifetime sales as 590,000 sold but a guy from the developers told them they had sold over 1m. He uses that as hard evidence of how bad VGchartz are but if had bothered to look he would have seen that VGchartz makes it perfectly clear on the Ben 10 page that the only have numbers for Ben 10 sales in the US and that they are estimates of the numbers sold at retail while the 1m figure is the SHIPPED total including the EU :lol:

ManOfTeal

On June 24, 2008 at 8:05 am

I find VGChartz to be a reliable source for data. Just don’t think that you are allowed to have an opinion on their forums….they nip that in the butt pretty fast. Freedom of speech apparently does not exist in the VGChart forums…..I think it may be run by Nazi’s.

Go Marlins!!!!