Ease of development and market penetration play the most significant role in determining target development platforms, according to game makers surveyed in Game Developer Research's "2008 State of Game Development Survey."
Developers also weighed in on applications of outsourcing, pegging art and programming as the most commonly-outsourced areas of game production.
Nearly half of respondents, the largest group, indicated that ease of development was the primary factor in choosing their target platform. According to recently-released data
from the same survey, the two most heavily-targeted platforms are PC and Xbox 360 -- often noted anecdotally as being friendlier development environments than some competitors.
The next most common factor in platform choice was install base and market penetration, noted by 40 percent of developers (including some of those who also chose the previous option).
This paints a contrast with the high install base of Wii and PlayStation 2, but may also speak to the penetration of various systems within specific gaming segments rather than the market as a whole.
Thirty-six percent of respondents cited platform-applicable team skills as a factor. Other factors, less common than the top three with only around 25 percent each, included publisher influence, code portability, and cost of development kits.
Asked about the areas in which they rely on outsourcing, 44 percent of developers pointed to art, animation, or video -- while slightly fewer, at 40 percent, contract out some music or sound.
Other types of outsourcing, such as programming and QA, were significantly less represented. But it seems that outsourcing is on the rise, abstractly -- around 40 percent of developers expect to boost existing outsourcing (or start the process from scratch) by the end of 2009.
The complete in-depth 180-page report
by Game Developer Research was compiled by surveying almost 2,000 video game professionals who read Gamasutra.com or subscribe to Game Developer
magazine. The survey response base is heavily comprised of North American developers.
It includes answers to over 55 questions about the platforms Western game creators develop for, the market sectors in which they work, the tools they use, and the amount of money they spend on them, covering every submarket of purchases made by game makers.