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February 10, 2006

Analysis Of System Expectations-2006

Famitsu, the Japanese gaming magazine, recently released the results of a survey they undertook concerning which game console is likely to be the leader in 2006. Famitsu polled retailers (113), developers (47) and gamers (370). The results showed some interesting things on the surface, but point to much larger issues and trends when examined in detail.

Ganers were asked which system they think will be the most successful in 2006, not which system they plan on purchasing.

Click chart for larger version.

The Xbox 360 results are no real shocker since Japanese gamers never really acquired the taste of Microsoft’s console last generation, and it looks like this generation is no different. The PS3 hype pulls out with a nice lead and gamers have a good feeling for the DS as well, no doubt being based on 2005’s stellar lineup in Japan for the handheld. The real shocker is the PSP, obtaining fewer predictions of success from the average gamer in Japan than the Xbox 360. This statistic is a painful wakeup call for Sony whose handheld has all but fallen off of the mindshare radar of gamers in their own home country.


Click chart for larger version.

Retailers, like gamers, also responded favorably to the pre-PS3 hype, probably due to years of PS2 retail success. The Nintendo DS’s future looks bright to retailers as well. Retailer’s expectation of the PSP this year is better than that of the gamer, but it is still rock-bottom overall, tied evenly with the niche Xbox 360.

Something to keep in mind is that retailers have the least amount of influence when it comes to the success of a game console. Gamers are the ones that come in to purchase the systems, so their opinions about what consoles will be successful are more likely to create reality. Why do gamers buy consoles? For games! Which is where developers come into the picture.

Developers are a key portion of the equation since they actually develop the games that retailers sell and gamers buy. It takes a series of successful games to launch a game system into the stratosphere of the people's mindshare. Keeping an eye on where developers are focusing their efforts leads to a fairly accurate prediction of where the gamer’s excitement will eventually be focused and where the retailer will see success as well.

Click chart for larger version.

The developer survey results show a much better outlook for the future of Sony’s PSP, with almost 3x the number of developers responding favorably than did so for the Xbox 360. Developer interest is strangely close between the Nintendo Revolution and the PS3. This could possibly indicate that while retailers and gamers both have high expectations for Sony’s upcoming console, the actual developers making games have less interest in developing for the platform. As a result, PS3 titles may suffer in quantity or quality, altering gamer and retailer reactions. Another thing to note about the PS3 is that neither gamers or retailers have any real-world experience with the console. Only developers have had the opportunity to run games on the PS3. Could this abnormally low response to the PS3 indicate developer’s unhappiness with the PS3 as a development environment?

Developers are clearly in love with the Nintendo DS. The largest spread between any two adjacent systems can be found between the Nintendo DS’ 49.9% developer response and the PS3’s 16.7% response. In the Nintendo DS, developers have found a platform that requires fewer development resources to create a game, a rapidly growing installed base, and a system that allows unprecedented creative freedom with the innovative new feature set.

Note: The gamers response also had an entry for PS2 for those gamers who thought the PS2 will be the leading system in 2006. I did not include this information in the charts since it was not available for all groups polled.
Source: Gamasutra


At February 12, 2006 12:37 AM, Anonymous Frank said...

This is all just my opinion, but I studied gaming so maybe it's not completely un-biased. The developers leaning towards DS is IMHO lazy. Sure, it's intuitive and a great way to make money compared to all the costly high-res 3D stuff on the nextgen consoles, but gamers obviously want nextgen PS3 & Revolution games.

Then again, this is for 2006 and PS3 may not come out for a while, and even if it does there aren't going to be enough good games for it to dominate, not to mention that most people won't be able to afford it. So maybe it's the gamers view that's scewed.

Personally, I don't get why people don't like PSP. The only reason I haven't bought it is because there hasn't been a good enough game to merit the $250. But now I have my eye on 2 upcoming titles and plan on using it as my replacement for SP. I have no plans to get DS in the near future. PSP is a playstation, portable. And everyone loves Playstation. I think it's only a matter of time before PSP gets big, and it could be in 2006.

At February 12, 2006 1:16 PM, Blogger Kamalot said...

Thanks for your comments Frank.

I don't know if developers are being lazy or not. Imagine you are going to construct an automobile. You could build a very fast car made from very expensive parts. It would take you a long time to engineer, it would cost more in parts and more in labor. It would also compete with other cars that look almost the same and drive almost the same and go along the same roads people have been driving on for 20 years.

Or, you could build a car that is fun to drive because it can take you to new places, perhaps off-road. It isn't fancy. It does not have heated seats, but people will buy it because it is fun, affordable and different. This does not make developers lasy, it makes good business sense.

You claim that everyone wants PS3 and Revolution games. That's a tough call to make since we don't know anything about the PS3 and Revolution games. More likely people want to know about the PS3 and Revolution games. Once we know about them, we can decde if we want them.

In Japan, according to the poll results, gamers want PS3 and DS games. Note that developers aren't nearly as interested in PS3 games. If developers aren't interested making PS3 games, the PS3 lineup will reflect that. Most people buy a console because it has the games they want to play. If the developers aren't making the games for the PS3 that people want to play, guess what will happen.

Sure, there is always brand loyalty. Some people will buy the PS3 because it is from Sony. Some people will buy a DS because it is from Nintendo. That is not the majority oif people and brand loyalty alone won't make you #1. A console needs the games to get people interested in the system.

I think you answered your own question, "I don't get why people don't like the PSP." when you stated, "I haven't bought it is because there hasn't been a good enough game to merit the $250."

A lot of people feel the same way. Personally, I can't stand the load times.

At February 13, 2006 5:43 PM, Anonymous Jason said...

Good read. I must say I am kind of dissapointed at the numbers the 360 is showing, though not surprised. I have a 360, I have (orhav had) every systm I can get my grubby little gamer hands on.

I love good games, and can see where the 360 is going to have really good things so long as developers realize they've hit the high mark on graphics and can start focuing on gameplay, plot, and more of the little touches (beads of sweat on boxers in FN3, the cloud of smoke that roils out of a hot machine gun in CoD2.)While I realize these are also graphical, it the little touches that make me say wow much more reliably than slap me in the face graphics quality covering up a game whose soul is almost as dead as a certain VG movie directors chances at ever being taken seriously.

Okay, games sure. I use the 360 more for an all around entertainment center than I do to play games. and that's not a bad thing. Me and my room mate have over 95 cds on the hard drive at this point and we almost always have it playing music. The visualization program is brilliant in the way it meshes with the musics melody, rythm, and feel in general.

I realize the PS3 will also be a media hub, however, jacking the price up so that you can take a chance at new tech succeeding seems like a terrible business decisions. Will I still buy a PS3? yes, whenever I can pull the money together. Will I preorder the first day I can? Probably not. Not just taking into account the money for the system, if the 360 games are on average ten dollars more expensive, I fear what the shiny new blue DV.. ray discs are going to go through.

A musing: Hmm, sony playstation and blue discs.. let's hope this time they are slightly more reliable.

At February 22, 2006 12:33 PM, Anonymous Arbee said...

Devs like the DS because it's a breath of fresh air - it's a vacation off the treadmill of "better graphics better graphics better graphics" that the home systems and the PSP are on. Users like it because it has no load times, a parade of triple-A titles, and now online Mario Kart, which is like crack except more addictive.

I think the same dynamics will come into play with the Revolution - the PS3 will be the winner for the graphics-addled gamer and the Rev will win for original games with unique new gameplay.

At February 24, 2006 10:51 AM, Anonymous Frank said...

On second thought, I don't think PSP's going to be as big as DS, at least not anytime soon. I just wish there were some good things coming out on DS. The only thing I'm looking forward to is Children of Mana--which I have to wonder will be any good after Legend of Mana.

I think what DS has that the other's don't above all is innovation, and, of course, a good price point for developers and gamers. And it sort of brings back the SNES days, which were IMHO gaming's golden age.

Hopefully Revolution will live up to the hype. I learned not too long ago Silent Hill 5's coming out on it, so I'm psyched, and it's the only nextgen system I plan on buying.


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