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Game developers mixed about Nintendo Switch

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Half of game developers believe Nintendo’s Switch video game console will outsell the Wii U, but are unsure whether the device’s hybrid concept will attract consumers.

The sentiments come from a State of the Industry survey ahead of next month’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The survey features responses from 4,500 professionals in the video game industry.

The survey found 50% of developers believe the Switch will sell better than its predecessor, the Wii U, which struggled to gain momentum against more powerful home consoles including the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

The Switch is the combination of a home and portable device, featuring a tablet players can travel with or pop in to a docking station attached to a television to play games at home with a traditional controller.

Developers seem more uncertain whether Switch’s core feature will capture the interest of consumers. About 19% said the feature will resonate with the public, while 48% say it might but the feature isn’t “world-changing.”

On Thursday night, Nintendo will host an event in Tokyo where it is expected to reveal details on how much the Switch will cost and when it would launch. When the Switch was unveiled in October, Nintendo only committed to March of this year for the timing of its release.

As for more powerful versions of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, known as Project Scorpio and PlayStation 4 Pro, developers seems even more uncertain. The survey found 41% were unsure whether the new consoles were good for the industry, while 36% said they were neutral.

The survey also showed a shift in which virtual reality platforms are gaining favor among game developers. According to the results, 24% of developers working on VR titles are working with the HTC Vive, while 23% support Oculus Rift. Last year, 19% were working on Oculus while 6% were on Vive.

“It’s got some benefits with room scale,” said Meggan Scavio, general manager of the Game Developers Conference, noting developers can create virtual walls in Vive to control the play area in a VR title. “You can get a lot more creative to make your games when you have your ability to move around.”

However, more developers believe augmented reality — made popular by games such as Pokemon Go — will be the more dominant technology in 20 years ahead of VR. The survey found 43% believe this, while 19% believe VR will be more popular.

Scavio says the “closed-off nature” of VR headsets and current pricing are making more developers consider AR, not to mention the popularity of a certain summer smartphone hit. “The success of Pokemon Go, which is considered AR, probably inspired a lot of developers to look at augmented reality for future development.”

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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