Sony and Microsoft have started talking about their next-generation hardware, and while some features are already known -- backwards compatibility, 8K resolution support, solid-state drives for shorter load times -- both companies have plenty of details left to reveal.
Those features may make for nice marketing bullet points, but what do gamers think is important? GamesIndustry.biz contributed a series of questions to ISFE and Ipsos MORI's GameTrack consumer survey regarding the public perception of features for the next generation of consoles, which were given to a representative sample of 8,000 gamers aged 11 to 64 across the UK, Germany, Spain and France and Italy.
"Better graphics" are widely agreed to be important in the European markets, with 68% of all surveyed gamers considering it important. Among console gamers only, this figure moves up to 78%.
"'Virtual reality compatibility' and 'handheld mode available' were most commonly deemed less important"
The only other feature to get anywhere close to that level of consensus from participants was "shorter load times when playing digital games." 63% of all surveyed gamers considered that an important factor, and 71% of console gamers.
Despite the emphasis on visuals, "8K resolution graphics" weren't considered as important as many other features. 40% of all surveyed gamers considered 8K support important for next-gen consoles. That number ticked up to 49% when looking at just the console gamers, but in both groups it performed less well than "motion controls," "backwards compatibility," and "ability to play physical games."
Those three features posted similar middle-of-the-pack numbers. Motion controls were important to 49% of all surveyed gamers and 57% of console gamers. Backwards compatibility was important to 48% of all surveyed gamers and 59% of the console crowd. Playing physical games was important to 47% of all surveyed gamers, and 58% of console gamers.
A step behind those three features and more in the neighbourhood of 8K resolution's responses were "The ability to stream games" and "Non-gaming apps." Streaming games was important to 44% of all surveyed gamers surveyed and 51% of the console gaming respondents, while non-gaming apps were seen as important by 41% and 52% of those groups, respectively.
As for gamers' lowest priority features, "virtual reality compatibility" and "handheld mode available" were most commonly deemed less important. VR was important to 37% of all surveyed gamers, with handheld mode slightly higher at 38%. When looking specifically at the console gamer crowd, VR was important to 43%, while handheld mode ticked up to 45%.
GameTrack also broke down the responses by country, showing some interesting departures from the norm. For example, German gamers are less likely to consider a number of gaming features important almost across the board. Fewer than 30% of German participants considered VR as important, while Handheld mode was important to just 24% of them.
On the other hand, UK gamers placed greater importance than the consolidated results across the five European markets on every feature, particularly the ability to stream apps (with the UK's 58% finding it important being 14 points higher than the European results) and non-gaming apps (an 11-point bump to 52% vs. 41% European results).
You can find out more information about the GameTrack survey here.