Nielsen GamePlay Metrics – Is It Doing It Right?

I’ve been interested in Nielsen’s GamePlay Metrics service since I came across it a while back. The basic intent is to record which games people are playing and for how long – in much the same way Nielsen’s does for TV – in order to be able to sell that data back to various interested parties.

What struck me when I first saw this info is that it just looks a bit … off. As far as publicly available information goes, the list for the PC top ten is available (here’s the link that currently shows the August 2009 list) but because that changes every month I’m including a screencap of it below:

Nielsen GamePlay Metrics - PC Games, August 2009. For reference purposes.

Nielsen GamePlay Metrics - PC Games, August 2009. For reference purposes.

What strikes me as off is that a number of odd titles pop up in the list. The Warcraft titles and The Sims are a given since they basically are the PC game market; however, titles like Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, Chess Master Challenge and Bookworm just look weird. Especially because they’ve remained in the top 10 for months.

I get that DOMM is played by a small number (share) of very hardcore players (playing an average of over 15 hours a week), but that doesn’t seem like a great reason to keep it in the top ten month after month – it suggests to me that the TMP% ends up breaking down as a valid comparison provided that as the number of players drop, you continue to get in if the players that remain end up being truly hard core.

Looking at Chessmaster Challenge, it suggests that just under 9% of the PC player base play chess using that single application. That just strikes me as high. Perhaps Chessmaster Challenge really is that big – the WoW of the electronic chess gaming industry per se – but I’m surprised to see it there.

I’ll keep looking at it and ask Nielsen a few questions on the topic.

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