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50% of devs think Switch can beat Wii U - Survey

GDC poll finds relative optimism for Nintendo's latest, Vive gaining ground in VR race, ambivalence toward PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio

While Nintendo has revealed very little about its upcoming console aside from the name and a key differentiating feature, some developers are already optimistic about the Switch, at least in how it will compare to the Wii U. That's according to the Game Developers Conference's fifth annual State of the Industry Survey, which was taken by more than 4,500 developers (primarily in North America and Europe) over a three-week period in November and December.

According to GDC organizers, about 50% of those sold said they thought the Switch would outsell its predecessor, the Wii U, which had an installed base of 13.36 million heading into the last holiday sales season. That may not be a terribly difficult threshold to clear (the Wii U is the lowest selling major Nintendo console line to date, barring the Virtual Boy), but some 14% of respondents said they didn't think the Switch would even do that well. The remaining roughly 37% of developers were apparently not ready to hazard a guess.

As for whether the Switch's primary new selling point--being a hybrid portable/home console--would catch on with the public, 19% strongly agreed it would, 11% said consumers wouldn't care, and 48% suggested they might. Another 23% indicated they didn't know how it would be received.

Regardless of how accurate their predictions are regarding Switch, few surveyed developers are working on the hardware. When asked which platforms they're currently working on, only 3% said Switch. That's fewer than AR headsets (5%) or Apple TV (4%), on par with Xbox 360 (3%), and barely above the PS3, Vita or the Wii U, each of which was being worked on by 2% of respondents.

The most common platforms for developers to work on were PC/Mac (53%), smartphones/tablets (38%), PS4/PS4 Pro (27%), Xbox One/Scorpio (22%), and VR headsets (24%). In that last group, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift were the most common platforms. Of all devs working on AR or VR platforms, 24% were working on Vive games, while 23% were working on Rift. PlayStation VR trailed with 13%. Those numbers have changed significantly since last year's survey, when Oculus led the field with 19%, compared to 6% a piece for Vive and PSVR.

The survey also found that most developers are subject to VR-induced discomfort or motion sickness at least some of the time. 9% said they always had problems with VR, while another 43% reported difficulty some of the time. 31% reported issues only rarely, and 17% of respondents said they never experience issues.

Mid-cycle console refreshes was another topic on the survey, with developers asked how the announcements of Project Scorio and PS4 Pro were received at their studios. 18% believed it was a good thing for the industry, but twice that (36%) reported being neutral on the systems. Another 5% said they looked at the new systems as a bad thing for the console business. However, the largest group of respondents, 41%, either didn't know what to make of the trend, or didn't care.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar

Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.