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Game developers aren’t so sure about PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio

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A new GDC survey says developers are ambivalent about new mid-cycle console upgrades

With the PlayStation 4 Pro, Sony ushered in a new era of mid-cycle console upgrades, one that will continue with the release of Microsoft’s Project Scorpio later this year. But according to a new survey from the Game Developers Conference, game creators aren’t necessarily on board with the idea. Based on GDC’s findings, only 18 percent of developers view consoles like PS4 Pro and Scorpio as a positive thing for the industry.

The majority of respondents, 41 percent, were undecided on the benefits of the new consoles, while 36 percent felt neutral on the topic. For many, the issue seems to be the extra work involved in creating games for multiple versions of the same console, and the potential for splitting up the userbase. “I do not want the markets to be divided,” wrote one respondent. “I also do not want the eventuality of a yearly release of a new console as I believe this could damage the console market severely.”

That said, very few — just 5 percent — of developers saw these consoles as a strictly negative thing. “When you’re developing for a console you benefit from having a fixed platform, so the mid-cycle refresh kind of ruins that benefit for [developers],” notes Meggan Scavio, general manager of GDC. “Most of them don’t really know what to make of it.”

These details come from the fifth annual GDC “state of the game industry” survey, which polled more than 4,500 creators who had previously attended the conference. The respondents hailed primarily from North America (67 percent), were mostly male (78 percent), and the majority (37 percent) have worked in the industry for 3–6 years.

Here are a few other interesting notes from the survey:

  • More respondents are currently making games for Android (54 percent) compared to iOS (51 percent), a first for the survey.
  • Half of those surveyed believe the upcoming Nintendo Switch will outsell the underperforming Wii U.
  • HTC’s Vive is the most popular virtual reality platform among developers, with 24 percent of respondents working in VR saying they’re developing for the platform. The Oculus Rift is a close second at 23 percent, followed by PlayStation VR at 13 percent.
  • That said, most developers aren’t working in VR at all, with 61 percent of respondents noting that they aren’t actively working on a VR project.
  • When it comes to the future, most of those surveyed believe that augmented reality will be more popular than its virtual counterpart. Forty-three percent of respondents said that AR would be the dominant of the two in 20 years, compared to 19 percent for VR.