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