Admittedly, I got one of my worst university grades in an advanced economics course. Regardless, playing with numbers and filtering with an economics or stats lens is fun. Of course, you need good numbers to play with!

I’m extremely grateful that NPD was willing to share some of their numbers for my “Playing the Spread: Internal vs. External IP” article at The Escapist. I don’t necessarily uncover any big surprises (ie, non-licensed games are on the whole more successful, but are more unpredictable than those games based on IP external to the game industry). Though, by analyzing the numbers and crunching standard deviations, we start to better understand why that is…

The numbers provided by NPD also had a column for ESRB rating. The sales break down as follows:

E
T
M
M - GTA
E 10+
Titles
54
30
15
12
1
Total Sales (millions)
$3,989
$2,048
$1,887
$1,043
$80
% of Sales
50%
26%
24%
13%
1%
Average Sales (millions)
$74
$68
$126
$87
$80
Total Units (millions)
122.4
59
44.8
25.5
1.6
% of Units
54%
26%
20%
11%
1%
Average Units (millions)
2.3
2
3
2.1
1.6

Table: Top 100 games sales data across all platforms since 2000.

Quickly, what do we notice? E rated games represent the majority of games sales. M sales are healthy, but not quite as dominant and the mainstream media would lead us to believe. In fact, the various GTA titles account for over $800 million of the M sales (or, about 13% of total games sales)! Also interesting to compare these numbers with the MPAA sorting of film revenue.

If I actually knew how to do regression analysis, it would be fascinating to control for things like ESRB rating, platform, month of release, publisher, genre, etc, to see which variables most closely correlate with a game’s sales/success.