Thursday afternoon, The NPD Group reported unusually low U.S. retail game sales for January 2011. The results were so low, in fact, that Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said he finds them a bit dubious.
As reported by the USA Today, Pachter said that January software sales have averaged $518 million between 2004 and 2011; with this year's January software sales reaching only $355.9 million, something doesn't add up.
"It also makes no sense that sales are below the level from 2004, when games were cheaper and the installed base of consoles was much lower. ... I don't know if the NPD is getting faulty data, but these numbers make no sense," he said.
It's unsurprising Pachter was taken aback by the low figures, as on Monday he predicted that January software sales would reach as high as $505 million, with sales down 12 percent year-over-year thanks to the lack of new releases.
In early February, The NPD Group announced a major change to its sales report, revealing that it would soon include previously-unavailable Wal-Mart sales data into its monthly figures. Prior to this, the company had been estimating Wal-Mart sales in its totals. If the company had been over-estimating these sales historically, it could partially explain the discrepancy.
The group confirmed to Gamasutra, however, that Wal-Mart POS data was not included in the January report, and thus did not affect this month's software sales figures.