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NPD Study Finds Gaps in User Awareness On Hardware Functionality

NPD Study Finds Gaps in User Awareness On Hardware Functionality

August 8, 2007 | By Leigh Alexander

August 8, 2007 | By Leigh Alexander
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More: Console/PC

A new NPD Group study analyzing attitudes, usage and purchase intent of next-gen gaming systems has found "significant gaps" in user awareness of functional features outside of video game play, with the results "more pronounced" on some systems than others.

The report, titled "Next Gen Functionality & Usage," revealed that marketing efforts intended to educate consumers about console functionality that extends beyond gaming may be hit-or-miss in their efficacy. For example, the study showed that PlayStation 3 owners download additional content as often as do owners of Xbox 360s -- but the majority of PS3 owners are unaware that it's even possible.

The study also measured backward compatibility -- 71 percent of PS3 owners and likely purchasers rated backward compatibility as the most important PS3 function, but only 31 percent are aware that that functionality even exists on the system.

The same kinds of trends, says the study, can also be seen in different areas (varying by system) such as ability to link to portable systems and Internet connection via gaming device.

Other study findings showed that the Wii's motion-sensing controls are rated as the most important feature, indicating high awareness ratings -- but that Wii owners are also interested in more "basic" features like Internet connectivity and backward compatibility with the GameCube, demonstrating that new features act as supplements, rather than replacements, to older ones.

The study also analyzed user awareness surrounding portable systems, and found that current owners and likely purchasers of PSPs are most aware (52 percent) that they can watch movies and videos. Music playback and photo viewing are in second and third place at 49 and 43 percent, respectively. As for DS users and likely purchasers, 57 percent are aware there is a touch-screen, 53 percent know about the dual-screen, and 49 percent are aware of stylus function.

Other functions, the study said, also favored one system over another; it says DS users are more likely to play wirelessly with friends than PSP users, while 360 users are more likely to play online with friends than PS3 users.

This study verifies what many of us already know: features related to playing games are by far the most important to consumers of video game systems, said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. While systems capabilities of providing owners with additional features may become more important in the future, currently the importance of these features and the awareness among consumers of these features is far from universal. To make headway in this next-gen race, manufacturers still need to be primarily concerned with the quality and entertainment value of the games themselves.

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