A big, inaccurate picture of the industry isn’t really much use to anyone, says Valve’s director of business development.
Jason Holtman, who, amongst other things, heads up the digital sales platform Steam, says that he isn’t about to start handing over data so that analysts and publishers can compile digital sales lists. In fact, he thinks that doing so would be a backwards step for the industry.
Holtman said that charts were an old idea, and were born of people trying to gather information from a variety of sources and collate it into a useful whole. He felt that it was much more useful for publishers and developers to know how their games were doing, rather than an incomplete look at the overall picture. “If you look back at the way retail charts have been made,” he said. “They have been proven to be telling an inaccurate story … They apparently had shown how the PC format was dying when it was actually thriving.”
“It’s not super important for a publisher or developer to know how well everyone is doing,” he added. “What’s important to know is exactly how your game is doing – why it’s climbing and why it’s falling. Your daily sales, your daily swing, your rewards for online campaign number three. That’s what we provide.”
Holtman’s position seems a little strange; he acknowledges how important accurate, up-to-date data is, but then downplays the importance of the bigger picture. It’s certainly true that sales charts paint only the most simple of pictures and don’t really take context into account, but – if used properly – that information still has a great deal of value.