Japanese Developers Take Next-Gen Survey
How do those in Japan's game industry feel about the next generation? Well, a recent poll might provide us with a few answers.
In the latest Famitsu issue, the magazine conducted a survey of 58 developers at 19 different Japanese game companies; the grouping included programmers, directors, designers, essentially anyone who actually makes the games, in contrast to those making the business decisions.
The very first question was a general one, asking the developers what they expect out of next-gen consoles. 48% said they had "extremely high" expectations for the PS3, 32% said "high," and 18% said they don't expect much at all.
The Xbox 360 was next up, which not surprisingly scored lower. Of those polled, 45% said they're not expecting much at all, 40% had "high" expectations, and only 13% had "extremely high" expectations. What's interesting about these results is the contrast between "high" and "extremely high."
Last to go, the Wii. And clearly, it has garned the favor of the Japanese design community. 36% have "high" expectations, only 1% said they weren't expecting much at all, and a whopping 63% claimed to have "extremely high" expectations. Nintendo's more-impressive-than-expected E3 showing may have played a part here, but for the most part, the Wii has had mostly positive feedback this year.
And of course, we can't do a survey without addressing the games themselves. In the PS3's lineup, developers were most excited about Metal Gear Solid 4 (12 votes). Next on the list was Final Fantasy XIII (10 votes), The Eye of Judgment (7 votes), Afrika (6 votes), and Heavenly Sword (4 votes). Other games that received some recognition were Resistance, Bladestorm, Gran Turismo HD, and Lair.
Much like the Xbox 360 system feedback, we could've anticipated how Japanese developers felt about the 360's software. Sitting atop the heap was, unsurprisingly, Blue Dragon with 18 votes. Following on down the list was, Lost Odyssey (14 votes), Culdcept Saga (8 votes), Dead Rising (4 votes), and Gundam Operation Troy (4 votes). Other games mentioned were Lost Planet, Gears of War, Riot Act, and Idol Master.
For the Wii, we got another "shocker." The new Zelda easily took the top spot with 26 votes, followed by Super Mario Galaxy (8 votes), Wii Sports (5 votes), Animal Crossing (3 votes), and Smash Brothers X (3 votes). Others included Wario Ware, Fire Emblem, Sonic, and Elebits.
Then they moved on to the technical side, asking the survey-takers to name their favorite aspects of each system. For the PS3, visual power was the most popular by far (19 votes), with overall hardware specs coming in second (10 votes). Next came the Cell's computation abilities (9 votes), the built-in hard disk (3 votes), and the use of Blu-Ray (3 votes). Some designers also listed PSP connectivity, online functionality, the six-axis system, and even the brand-name power of PlayStation and Blu-Ray.
On the Xbox front, Xbox Live garnered the most votes with 18. Going down the list, there was system's ease of development (13 votes), connectivity with Windows Vista (12 votes), visual power (6 votes), and overall hardware balance (4 votes). Also recognized were the system's demo download service, ranking system, and strength of sales in North America.
That innovative controller of Nintendo's came in first for the Wii, raking in 34 votes. To follow came Wii Connect 24 (9 votes), the Virtual Console (6 votes), ease of development (4 votes), and the console price (3 votes). Other aspects mentioned were the hardware size, the concept of body motion, and the focus on light users.
And lastly, Famitsu pitted all three systems against each other in one final Battle Royale. In the category of system sales, 60% expected Wii to come out on top. PS3 was second with 37% of the vote, and in a distant third was the Xbox 360 with 3%. On a side note, one of the reasons cited for low PS3 expectations was the high retail cost of the system.
Furthermore, most of the developers polled want to give the Wii a shot. 63% picked Nintendo's system as the one they want most to develop for, compared to 32% for the PS3 and 5% for the Xbox 360. The Wii also took the category of which system the developers want the most (to own, personally), but this was a closer race. 49% have the Wii on their wish list, 42% want the PS3, and only 9% have an interest in the Xbox 360.
Given these results, it looks like Nintendo is doing much better than anyone expected at this time last year going into next-gen, and Microsoft - as always - has a lot of ground to make up in the Japanese professional market.
10/6/2006 Ben Dutka