Amazon Ranking Stalker is dead. The admin didn’t give a reason, just a simple message: “For various reasons, this site is closed. Thanks for the last nine years.” There was apparently a post from the admin about some kind of copyright claim, but what in the world copyright could possibly have to do with a site that just grabbed data from an Amazon API, I have no idea.

First things first, this has no effect on sales reporting. Stalker only provided estimates; those estimates had no effect on the sales reports, which come through Oricon. Stalker also wasn’t the conduit through which any of the weekly leaks flowed, so whatever data we have access to now right now, we still have.

But Stalker was a super cool idea for a site, and had built up a fairly impressive way to interpreting the data that did a great job of providing a ballpark for how a show was likely to do in the opening week. Sure there were plenty of caveats and many different ways the numbers could end up being inaccurate, but once you learned those, it was easy to use the site and get a general idea for how a sho’s discs were performing.

I guess I’m not shocked to see this happen. I started having feelings that it wasn’t being fully maintained anymore way back when the rankings it maintained for non-Amazon stores started breaking and didn’t get fixed. The Animate rankings haven’t worked in forever, for example. Stalker also had a bug where Amazon-exclusive editions didn’t get the high price penalty applied when they should, which skewed estimated of pricier items – which has increasingly become a problem as shows move to higher MSRP 3-4 volume sets. All of this started putting a dent in Stalker’s overall accuracy, though it still performed well as a ballpark.

But I’m really grateful to the admin for keeping such a fun site around for as long as they did. Stalker has been around nearly as long as I’ve been reporting sales numbers, and certainly at least as long as I’ve been paying attention to pre-release estimates. It’s going to be a really weird feeling to go into release day for new shows having essentially no idea how they’re going to sell!

Not to close things on a pessimistic note, but there have been major losses on the JP sides of disc sales tracking lately. First we lost the DVD/BD Sales Wiki, and along with it any kind of timely access to the weekly Biz leaks (we still seem to get some Biz leaks, but sporadically, and delayed by many weeks). Now we’ve lost Stalker.

Obviously, physical video sales are far less relevant than they once were, so it’s not surprising. Frankly, I spend a good deal less time on this site than I used to, though that’s in part because there’s just less data available to post, with the Biz leaks being mostly gone and extended rankings exploit being long dead. That doesn’t mean disc sales aren’t worth tracking – even as physical media declines further and further as a percentage of overall industry revenue, there’s still a pretty unsurprising overlap (for late night anime only!) between shows that put up decent disc sales and shows that get sequels. Not a direct causal relationship, but it’s a solid correlation and an important sign of interest in a lot of late night franchises. It’s also useful to see what the effect of mobage codes and event tickets are on disc sales, as they give hints as to what aspects of a franchise are drawing fans in. And with any sort of data about how our favorite franchises are performing being so incredibly hard to find, you never want to throw out any data points.

But nonetheless… physical media is on its way out. It has been for a long time, and it’ll probably still take a long time yet before it’s really done. But it’s definitely not going to be around (in any meaningful sense) forever.

14 Responses to “RIP Amazon Ranking Stalker, 2009(ish)-2018”

  1. Mami Kawada Lover says:

    I wonder if this now means we now wait for sales blind and will have no idea to expect how each series will do, or if there will be other ways that will pop up at some point.

    • Mk says:

      Well, we still have the Amazon Rankings themselves. Without Stalker to apply its calculations concrete predictions will be much harder, but we’ll still be able to say a show consistently in the single or double digits is likely doing better than a show in the low 100s, which in turn is likely doing better than a show consistently in the high 100s or 1000s.

      • something says:

        You can, but without the context of Stalker’s points and hourly tracking, what’s mostly going to happen is people getting a skewed perception of how a show is doing. This is especially the case for Amazon where the separate listings for Amazon-exclusive and normal versions can render pure ranking number misleading (i.e. a series ranking 200/200 across two editions is probably doing better than a series ranking 125 with one edition). It’s also hard to evaluate higher priced items looking purely at rank too without additional adjustments.

        So in the absolute broadest sense one can still look to separate a “it’s in the top 100” vs “it’s in the top 1,000” but that’s really about it.

        • Mami Kawada Lover says:

          So just by looking at Amazon rankings, we’ll still have some idea of what shows will be 10k+ and what would be < 1k? The numbers won't be completely accurate anymore (and they never were to begin with), but I guess at least a ballpark's guess remains possible?

          • something says:

            10k+ and <1k is a pretty extreme range, so if that's the bar you're trying to clear, then... maybe? It'll still be very difficult to tell. Stalker was only ever Amazon rankings, so sure we *technically* have access to that still, but Stalker was able to check every single release every single hour, which a human isn't able to do. So unless you're checking all editions for a release multiple times a day every single day, it's going to be easy to get very misled.

  2. QAnon says:

    In some ways this makes things more exciting.

    • something says:

      More “surprising” maybe, but I wouldn’t call it particularly exciting. Very few shows put up noteworthy disc sales numbers, so for the most part I anticipate a lot of peole being really disappointed when numbers come out and they show they thought was rockin’ sells like 2.5k.

  3. Alvaro says:

    “Vuela alto” We say in my country for this situation :'(

  4. cきゅ says:

    Some Chinese people have already established their own alternative to the stalker site. mingzuozhibi dot com is the site’s url. Note the algorithm deployed is currently different from stalker, the most notable differences being a generally higher estimate than the stalker one, have not take into account the effect of price of ranking of each disc yet, and do not consider niconico preorder numbers. Also note that, due to server performance, currently not all anime discs are fetched by the site, only following discs are currently indexed by the site:
    – volume 1 release of seasonal tv anime, and volume 2 release of some tv anime with higher sales expectancy and higher probability of significant sales drop from previous volume
    – Movie/OVA/etc. with relatively high sales expectation
    – Major BOX releases
    And for the same reason, the process of adding discs into the site’s list of tracked release is manual and thus the site’s operator also welcome suggestion of interested anime title to be tracked, and that it would be necessary to monitor amazon periodically to learn about new discs available on the site. Also the site operator is recruiting anyone who might be interested in operating the site together.

    • something says:

      I guess I just have to hope for a Japanese equivalent because I cannot figure out Chinese at all. And unfortunately, they use the Chinese titles for shows…

      • cきゅ says:

        The format is roughly like this . And actually the website also stored the originally Japanese title name for each discs, but one would have to click into the blue link of each Chinese title, and then switch to the second tab in the target webpage to read that.

        • something says:

          Thanks. I’m sure I’ll still reference it as it’s definitely a lot better than nothing. I probably won’t do seasonal prediction posts anymore, though.

  5. Tuna says:

    Well I hope this site wont join the list of causalities in this 2018 massacre of sales tracking.

  6. Progeusz says:

    Huge loss for the enthusiasts of anime market who enjoy tracking the performance of shows. I’m incredibly sad to see Stalker go, even if I haven’t used it in a long while. I will always remember it dearly, and of course all the discussions which that site enabled.

    Glad to see you’re still alive and kicking, something, doing amazing job as always.

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