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State of the Industry survey reveals true feelings on Switch, Project Scorpio

The Game Developer’s Conference, the largest professional video game industry event, polled over 4,500 developers to discover current trends and thoughts about the industry. The extensive GDC poll, compiled into the 2017 State of the Industry survey, touched upon a number of significant 2017 topics, including the Nintendo Switch, Microsoft’s Project Scorpio, and VR.

Nintendo Switch developer support

Of the polled developers, only 3 percent are currently working on games for the Nintendo Switch. Although Nintendo’s console hasn’t launched yet, only 5 percent of respondents expected their next game to be released on Switch. Despite these low numbers, developers were generally optimistic about Switch sales. Fifty percent thought the Switch will sell more units than the Wii U, which has sold approximately 13 million units worldwide. Only 13 percent thought the Switch would underperform the Wii U, while 37 percent were unsure.

The premise of the Switch, a dual console/handheld, makes it hard to predict how it will be received by the public. Nineteen percent believed the Switch could be game-changing for players; 48 percent thought it will resonate, but not in spectacular fashion. Only 11 percent of those polled felt that gamers will not receive it well, while 23 percent claimed to not know its potential appeal.

Project Scorpio and PS4 Pro

Mid-cycle console upgrades — Project Scorpio and PS4 Pro — did not poll very favorably. While developers understood the reason behind releasing higher-powered console iterations — to maintain pace with gaming PCs — they were leery of a precedent being set.

“Although, I do not want the markets to be divided, I also do not want the eventuality of a yearly release of a new console as I believe this could damage the console market severely,” one developer wrote.

While only 5 percent of developers viewed the Scorpio and PS4 Pro as negative for the industry, only 18 percent saw these upgrades as a positive. Thirty-eight percent were neutral on the issue, and the remaining developers, the largest segment comprising 41 percent, didn’t know what to make of them yet.

VR development

Virtual reality is still in its infancy, so it’s not surprising that 61 percent of developers said they are not working on VR games at this time. Of those working on VR games, though, the HTC Vive has surpassed the Oculus Rift as platform of preference, with 24 percent of developers working on Vive titles as opposed to 23 percent developing for the Rift. Developers are currently developing for PlayStation VR at the same rate as Gear VR, with both earning 13 percent developer support. As for future support, 40 percent believe their next game will come to HTC Vive, 37 percent to Oculus Rift, and 26 percent to PSVR.

Overall, for VR, developers were much more intrigued by the HTC Vive. Forty-five percent of developers were greatly interested in the Vive, while only 30 percent showed similar enthusiasm for the Oculus Rift — falling just ahead of the 29 percent interest for PS VR. This is a reversal from last year’s poll when developers showed 40 percent interest for the Rift, and only 26 percent interest for the Vive. PlayStation VR interest rose slightly from its 26 percent interest last year.

The 2017 State of the Industry Survey is the fifth of its kind, and comes ahead of GDC 2017, which takes place February 27 to March 3 in San Francisco.