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New survey of game popularity rewards LittleBigPlanet

18 December 2008

Tired of eye-grabbing sales figures headlines or never-ending top ten listings? You're not the only one. Networked Insights, a self-described "Web 2.0 company" based in Madison, WI, has come forward with a novel new method of determining a game's popularity based on the amount of online activity it generates.

The idea is to help marketing people get a sense of how their audiences are reacting to a game which simple sales figures can't provide, and to account for the discrepancies that often arise between how much a game sells and how frequently it comes up as a topic online.

Networked Insights has published a report comparing its own findings using this method for October in the U.S. with those of the much-cited NPD sales research group. Here's a brief breakdown of the methodology:

"To gather data for this Measuring the Social report, Networked Insights tapped more than 17,000 social media and social networking sites, which included 3.5 million conversation per day and over 120 million unique users, and analyzed all interactions and post content around songs. The following data includes all the various types of interactions available to online audiences, including reading, listening, rating, sharing, linking and inviting. Networked Insights can also determine the value and influence of each interaction – for example, Tiger Woods sharing a golf video carries far more weight than an everyday golf enthusiast taking the same action."

The Networked Insights list starkly contradicts that of the NPD. LittleBigPlanet, for instance, brought in a respectable but far from chart-topping 215,000 unit sales during October according to NPD data, putting it in eighth place behind evergreen Nintendo hits like Wii Play. According to Networked Insights' criteria, however, LittleBigPlanet came third behind Fable II and Fallout 3 with a gargantuan 6,249,040 online interactions during the same month.

Nintendo's achievements, by contrast, diminished sharply when considered this way. While three Wii titles made it into the NPD October top ten, Networked Insights' list retained only one - Wii Play - in tenth place, suggesting that most of Nintendo's consumers couldn't give two hoots for the online gaming community.

If any of our readers work in marketing, now's the time to give us the benefit of your opinion.

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