Most Gamers Unaware of Upcoming Motion Control

June 14, 2010

Most video gamers are unaware that both Microsoft and Sony have motion control video game navigation systems scheduled for release during the 2010 holiday season, according to data from The Nielsen Company.

Microsoft’s Project Natal has been billed as providing controller-free gaming and navigation for the Xbox 360 with movements on the screen based on players’ physical gestures. Sony’s Move for the PlayStation 3 utilizes a motion-capturing controller, plus a secondary “sub-controller” providing additional functionality.

Both systems were revealed at the video game E3 industry conference last year and rely in part on an integrated camera to capture movement. Motion control itself is not new to the US video game market; Nintendo released the motion control-operated Wii gaming system in 2006 in the US.

Sony Has Higher Awareness, Microsoft Has Higher Purchase Interest
While both Sony and Microsoft should be disappointed in overall results of Nielsen’s research, basically the companies are in a draw in terms of how they fared. The Sony Move system beat Microsoft Natal in terms of awareness among total gamers (23%-21%) and awareness among users of its own game system (42% of PlayStation gamers compared to 39% of Xbox 360 gamers).

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However, Microsoft takes the advantage when it comes to purchase intent. Among gamers who are aware of the upcoming release, 35% have definite intent to purchase Project Natal, compared to 28% having definite intent to purchase Sony Move. And 42% of aware Project Natal gamers have a definite intent to purchase the systems, compared to 41% of aware Sony Move gamers.

In addition, Microsoft fares slightly better than Sony in awareness of its motion control system’s release date. Forty percent of aware total gamers, and 36% of aware Xbox 360 gamers, don’t know the release date for Project Natal. In contrast, 42% of aware total gamers, and 39% of aware PlayStation 3 gamers, don’t know the release date for Sony Move.

Sony Move Has Lower Price Expectations
One detail which has received much scrutiny is price. There have been wide-ranging estimates about these in the blogosphere and consumer views reflect some of this uncertainty. Gamers are fairly united in believing that Move will cost somewhere between $26 and $75. Sony has stated that the price will be below $100, so this is perhaps unsurprising.

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But for Natal there is a fairly wide distribution, with 27% thinking it will cost more than $100, but a nearly equal 31% believing it will be less than $50. It will be interesting to see if pricing is clarified next week and if so, how consumers perceive the value. However, a combined 43% of gamers think Sony Move will cost $50 or less, and 71% think it will cost $75 or less. Only 56% of gamers think Project Natal will cost $75 or less.

Specific Games Not Major Console Purchase Factor
The availability of a specific game title is not a major motivating factor behind the purchase of a specific video game console, according to other recent video game research by The Nielsen Company.

Using the recent Playstation 3-exclusive “God of War III” (GOW III) release, which received heavy marketing promotion and media coverage, as a lens, Nielsen explored the motivating factors for purchasing a Playstation 3.

Among those gamers motivated to acquire a PS3 because they are looking forward to buying a specific game, GOW III was the clear winner. However, overall results indicate that specific game titles rank as the least frequently cited reason for being interested in purchasing a PS3.

When asked to rank the five most important reasons (out of 10 possible, with a rank of 1 indicating the most important reason) for being interested in buying a PS3, gamers included “I am looking forward to buying a specific game” 12% of the time, lagging behind all the other potential motivators by a substantial margin.

About the Data: Nielsen Games surveyed more than 2,400 active gamers in late May and early June 2010 about their knowledge of and expectations for these motion control systems.

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