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Game developer survey shows growing interest in Nintendo Switch, more loot boxes

Switch and PC development on the rise as VR wanes

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Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Organizers behind the annual Game Developers Conference released their State of the Game Industry report for 2018 today, which showed an uptick in interest in developing games for Nintendo Switch and PC platforms, as interest in developing for mobile and virtual reality platforms wanes.

The report also notes that, despite backlash to the prevalence of loot boxes in video games in 2017, they’re not going anywhere. One in ten game developers surveyed said they were currently working on games with “paid item crates.”

The GDC State of the Game Industry 2018 report is based on responses from “nearly 4,000 game developers.” The report indicates a few interesting, although not unexpected, trends, like increased development for PC and consoles and a great deal of confidence in the performance of Nintendo Switch.

In response to a question about which platform(s) developers are currently making games for, 60 percent said PC. That was followed by 36 percent for smartphones and tablets, 30 percent for PlayStation 4 and 26 percent for Xbox One. Only 12 percent said they were currently working on games for Nintendo Switch.

But when asked which platform(s) they anticipated they’d be developing their next game for, PS4 and Xbox One ranked a bit higher (32 percent and 29 percent, respectively), while 15 percent said Switch. As for the platform that most interested developers, a much larger portion of survey respondents said Switch: 36 percent. Interest in developing for Switch shot past interest in VR headsets, mobile platforms and Xbox One.

The report also notes that “faith in the long-term sustainability of the VR/AR business is slipping.” One respondent to the survey said VR platforms still need their “must have” game, a la Halo for the original Xbox, while others appeared to show more faith in AR as a viable platform.

In terms of how developers plan to monetize the games they’re working on, 49 percent said they were working on a “pay to download” game, while 39 percent were pursuing a free-to-play model. About one in five developers said they planned to support their games with paid DLC updates, paid in-game items and/or paid-in game currency. Eleven percent of developers were looking at using “paid items crates” of some sort.

GDC’s free report on the State of the Game Industry 2018 can be downloaded in PDF form from its website.