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According to a recently released report by NPD Group, the vast majority of those who plan to acquire a game console are mostly concerned about appealing content and backwards compatibility rather than by some special console features. The report – which is based on a survey – also claims that the most anticipated game console is Sony PlayStation 3, however, so-called hardcore gamers feel more enthusiasm about Nintendo Wii.

For about 87% of NPD’s respondents appealing game titles are “the most important feature” of game consoles followed by backwards compatibility at 68%. Only for “some” consumers specific “must-have” features are so important that they would be willing to buy a next generation video game console as soon as it becomes available, regardless of price, according to NPD.

“Price is definitely a factor, but not as much as is content. I’ve long been a believer that it isn’t any particular technical capability that will win this next console battle. The story continues to be content,” said Anita Frazier industry analyst, The NPD Group.

According to the report, males and those under age 35 are the most passionate about the overall features of the next generation systems, but Heavy Gamers, those who spend the most time and money on video games, are more likely than all other segments to emphasize the importance of these systems having appealing game titles, backward compatibility, wireless controllers, Wi-Fi capability, and the ability to play online.

“Infrequent” and “Secondary” gamers, as well as “Prefer Portable” gamers, have expressed an interest in purchasing a next-gen system – all above 40% for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Wii. Heavy Gamers show a stronger interest in purchasing a Wii than a PS3, 79% and 70%, respectively, among those aware of each system. However, among those interested in purchasing only one of the next-generation game systems, 62% are interested only in purchasing a PlayStation 3, whereas the Xbox and Wii share 38% of audience.

Data was collected via an online survey emailed to a representative sample of 16 670 NPD Consumer Panel members ages 6 to 44 (ages 6-12 were captured via surrogate reporting, with respondents having more than one child in this age range asked to answer the survey as it relates to only one randomly selected child) with the final survey data weighted to represent the U.S. population of individuals ages 6 to 44. Fieldwork was conducted from July 11-28, 2006.

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