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The Bitbag Interviews Brett Walton, President Of VGChartz.com

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I’m sure if you are a geek or a gamer, you’ve heard of VGChartz.com by now. VGChartz is a comprehensive list of worldwide console and game sales dating all the way back to 1993. It seems that there is some skepticism among gamers as to the accuracy of VGChartz numbers. Brett Walton sets the record straight in this interview.

Bb: Tell us a little bit about how, when and why VGCHARTZ got started.

BW: VG Chartz began in it’s earliest form back in summer 2005 when I created a small site which collected together publically available video game sales data in one place for users to view. My personal interest in the data spans over ten years and over that time I have collected a huge amount of information and gained a lot of experience in the field.

Bb: How often is the site updated?

BW: The site is updated practially every day, whenever new data is available.

Bb: There’s a lot of speculation about where you get your numbers from. Please tell us how you determine sales numbers for the whole world? Do you use other info sources such as NPD?

BW: Well the methodology section on the site explains well enough but essentially we do a combination of things. We collect raw data from a number of retailers across the world. We are developing these relationships all the time and are collecting more and more data each month. We then apply extrapolation factors to the raw data to arrive at our final figures. How much we extrapolate a particular piece of data by depends on a number of factors and we use past trends, comparisons with data from other tracking services, comparisons to manufacturer shipment data, estimated market shares for the retailers we cover and a small amount of judgement to arrive at our final figures. We don’t claim that our data is as accurate as that which you would get from a professional tracking firm, but we generally fall within 10-15% before adjustment which will bring us closer to 5%. Each month that passes we get better at extrapolating the data we collect and soon we will be limited purely by the quality of the data itself – if retailers we cover don’t sell a certain game for example then it is very hard for us to estimate for its sales!

Bb: Seeing that Virtua Fighter 5 for the PS3 only sold a total of 82,462 copies in Japan is unbelievable. Is it safe to say that after a game is long gone off the shelves, that your sales numbers for that game are close to 100% accurate?

BW: We regularly go back and fine tune our data when we get fresh information so yes, on older games the data should be close to 100% accurate.

Bb: Do you think that game publishers use your site to determine if certain games should go multi-platform? It seems so in the case of Virtua Fighter 5 which was originally a PS3 exclusive.

BW: Well I know a lot of publishers have representatives who are registered with the site and we also have a lot of contacts in the industry and it is true that many are starting to use our data in their decision making processes.

Bb: Have you ever been approached by a game publisher to check for accuracy on your numbers?

BW: Yes, on a number of occasions. As I mentioned before, our contacts with publishers is very strong and they will often advise us if we are tracking too high or too low for a particular game.

Bb: What games are you playing right now?

BW: Unfortunately since VGChartz really began to take off I have had little time to play games! I played Gears of War and Resistance last week and am about halfway through New Super Mario Bros.

Bb: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

BW: Thank you.

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