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GDC Survey: Dev interest in 3DS, Wii U flatlines as VR interest doubles

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Developer interest in creating games for Nintendo's current platforms is at an all time low, according to the annual State of the Industry Survey. While interest in creating virtual reality games has more than doubled since last year, with most developers expecting mainstream adoption of the technology by 2030.

This is the fourth year running that the Game Developers Conference has surveyed attendees about their interests, work and predictions for the industry. This year's report includes responses from 2,175 people, up from the 2,081 who participated in last year's State of the Industry Survey. The survey is conducted in December and includes those who attended that year and those who had already registered for the coming year.

The survey shows that interest in making games for Nintendo's active platforms has nearly flatlined, with just five percent of this year's respondents saying that they are working on Wii U projects, down from six percent last year. Only two percent of developers say they are working on 3DS titles, down from three percent last year.

That continued drop in Wii U and 3DS interest may be tied to news of Nintendo's upcoming NX system, which will be detailed later this year.

While Nintendo game development is nearly nonexistent, the other consoles fared much better.

At the top of the list of consoles with active development is the PlayStation 4, with 27 percent of developers saying they are developer for, up from 26 percent last year. The Xbox One was up to 23 percent this year, from last year's 22 percent.

At the top of the heap, by a long stretch, remains the PC, with 52 percent of developers working on a game for the platform. And that's actually down from last year's 56 percent. PC development is followed closely by smartphone and tablet game development, with 44 percent of developers saying they're working on games for the systems, down from 40 percent last year.


The biggest increase across the board, though, was in the area of virtual reality game development.

Powered by the release of Gear VR and upcoming releases of Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, developers working on VR titles have more than doubled since last year.

This year's survey shows that 16 percent of developers are working on VR titles, up from last year's 7 percent. And 15 percent of developers said their next title will incorporate VR, up from 6 percent the previous year.

While VR game development seems to be on the rise, opinion seems to be split among developers on the sustainable of VR gaming, according to survey results.

Although 75 percent of developers surveyed think that both VR and augmented reality is a long-term sustainable business, 27 percent don't see adoption of those devices ever matching the current console install-base. Only one percent of those surveyed think that VR and AR will exceed the console adoption rate of 40 percent by 2018. Almost half, or 44 percent, expect that to happen by 2026 with nearly the rest thinking it will happen by 2030.

Opinion in general on the sustainability and adoption of virtual reality for gaming remains mixed, even among those not directly tied to making games using the technology.

Another big winner in the survey is esports which developers continue to believe is a sustainable business. About 90 percent of developers surveyed said they believe in esports, up from 79 percent last year.

Correction: The survey conducted for this year's study included all developer attendees for GDC, not just those from North America, according to an update and correction from the conference organizers. We've updated the story to reflect that. Here is their full statement:

"We'd like to issue a quick correction to the press release for the GDC 2016 State of the Industry survey. The text has been updated to reflect that the survey was based on the feedback of more than 2,000 game developers ahead of GDC 2016 in March. The earlier version erroneously stated that the survey was limited to North American game developers, but it was actually open to all Game Developers who attended GDC in the past three years, and not just North American game developers."

You can listen to this story — and more — in the episode of Minimap, Polygon's daily news podcast, below.

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