Consumer Study Shows Video Game Console Purchasing Behavior May Be Influenced By Vibration Feedback Technology

Ipsos Insight Study Shows Consumer Expectations Of PS3, Xbox 360, And Wii

Portend Potential Market Share Shift For Sony, Microsoft, And Nintendo

Sep 25, 2006, 01:00 ET from Ipsos Insight

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Sept. 25 /PRNewswire/ - Ipsos Insight, the
 third-largest, survey-based marketing research company in the world, today
 released the results of a consumer market research study to measure
 consumer intent to purchase next-generation video gaming consoles,
 including attitudes toward vibration feedback (or rumble) technology. The
 study, sponsored by Immersion Corporation (Nasdaq:   IMMR), included 1,075
 respondents aged 18 and older who both own a video game console and play
 games for more than four hours each week. The game players were drawn from
 a statistical sampling of the Ipsos North America online panel of more than
 800,000 U.S. households.
     The study highlights the importance that many active console gamers
 place on rumble/vibration feedback in their gaming experience across a wide
 range of game genre. The study also highlights current gamer expectations
 and desire that the rumble/vibration feature be present in Sony's PS3 and
 for the PS3 to include the feature when playing PS1 and PS2 games. The
 study results indicate that Microsoft may gain share in the next year at
 the expense of Sony among these active console gamers, with possibly
 greater gains as consumers learn about the lack of the rumble/vibration
 feature in the PS3 controller and possibly the console.
     Vibration Feedback is a Popular Feature with Majority of Gamers
     Almost three in four respondents (72 percent) agree that
 rumble/vibration feedback enhances their game experience in one or more of
 these ways "most of the time": makes the game more fun, involves the player
 more in the game, makes the game seem more real, helps the gamer play
 better. Only 5 percent of gamers agree with this statement: "The rumble
 feature should be totally removed from all video console games."
     Players of a wide range of console game genre affirm vibration feedback
 as a very positive part of the gaming experience. A majority of gamers
 agreed with this statement: "I like it and I want it in the game" or "I
 think it's essential to the fun, realism, and overall experience" regarding
 vibration feedback for racing (71 percent), action/adventure (70 percent),
 first-person shooter (69 percent), fighting (66 percent), and sports (61
 percent) games. These types of games account for 72 percent of all video
 game units sold in the U.S. in 2005, according to the NPD Group's
 point-of-sale information as reported by the Entertainment Software
 Association (ESA).
     Madden NFL 06 (PS2/Xbox) and Gran Turismo 4 (PS2) were the three
 top-selling video games in 2005 by units, according to the same ESA report
 and NPD Group data. Gamers often wrote enthusiastic and passionate comments
 when asked to describe the best use of rumble/vibration feedback in a
 specific video console game, such as these comments on the top-selling
     -   "It is good in games like Madden because it seems so life-like when
         guys get hit. I also think that without it Madden would be just an
         ordinary game."
     -   "On Madden it makes it feel more real, like I'm not just watching a
         game but actually playing."
     -   "In Madden Football ... when the kicker has a crucial field goal.
         ...feeling the heartbeat through the control makes the anxiety and
         pressure real."
     -   "Well, like in Gran Turismo when you are racing in rally races, the
         rumble lets you know how much your car is sliding so that you know
         how much gas to give it."
     -   "For PS2, Gran Turismo 4 needs the rumble feature to connect you to
         the car so you can more adequately feel how the car is handling."
     Expectations and Preferences for Next Generation Console Features
     More than four of every five gamers surveyed (83 percent) feel that it
 is "important" or "very important" that the new version of a video game
 console offer backward compatibility for video games made for the previous
 console version. Furthermore, more than two-thirds of respondents (69
 percent) consider rumble/vibration feedback part of the definition of
 backward compatible.
     Two of the three next-generation console systems (Sony's PS3 and
 Nintendo's Wii) have announced a motion- or tilt-sensing feature in their
 gamepad controller, while two will have the vibration feedback feature (Wii
 and Microsoft's Xbox 360). Only 18 percent of gamers reported ever having
 used a gamepad controller with motion or tilt sensing to control action in
 a PC or video console game. Gamers were asked what feature set they would
 like in a controller, assuming both motion/tilt sensing and rumble were
 technically feasible. The rumble feature with or without motion/tilt
 sensing was preferred on each of the three platforms: 59 percent on the
 PS3, 52 percent on the Xbox 360, and 44 percent on the Wii. Motion/tilt
 sensing alone was preferred only by 8 percent of respondents for the PS3, 7
 percent for Xbox 360, and 6 percent for Wii systems.
     About three of every four respondents (74 percent) were not aware of
 Sony's announcement that the rumble/vibration feature will be removed from
 the new PS3 controller and nearly six out of 10 gamers (58 percent) were
 disappointed with this news. Respondent disappointment may have been
 tempered by the fact that 82 percent believe there will be or probably will
 be third-party gamepad controllers that will support vibration feedback for
 the PS3 console system within the first year after its launch. However,
 thus far Sony has not announced capability in the PS3 console for vibration
 feedback, and it is believed that many console gamers are unaware that this
 capability must be present in the console to experience vibration feedback
 with any gamepad controller, first- or third-party.
     Microsoft May Gain Market Share vs. Sony
     Video console gaming remains a popular entertainment pastime, with
 about one-half of gamers (49 percent) saying they play about the same
 amount as a year ago. About one in four (26 percent) say they play more,
 and another one in four (24 percent) say they play less, with those who
 play less citing "having less time to play games" as the major reason.
     Roughly two-thirds of gamers surveyed (65 percent) have already
 purchased or plan to purchase one or more of the next-generation consoles
 in the coming year. The anticipated average number of next-generation
 console purchases by these gamers was 1.4 per household. Nearly half of all
 respondents (48 percent) reported an intent to purchase between one and
 five video console games in the next year.
     The majority of previous-generation consoles owned by respondents are
 PS1/PS2 (61 percent), followed by Xbox (20 percent), and GameCube (19
 percent). Conversely, when factoring in both Xbox 360 purchases to date,
 and planned next-generation console purchases by respondents in the next
 year, Microsoft may be poised to gain ground. Specifically, assuming all
 three next-generation consoles are on the U.S. market by Dec. 1, respondent
 purchase plans indicate a possible decrease to 48 percent share of
 next-generation consoles units for PS3 by summer 2007, compared to an
 increase to 37 percent for Xbox 360, and a decrease to 15 percent for Wii.
     However, among those who indicated they were planning to buy a PS3 in
 the next year, the desire to purchase is clearly affected by the lack of
 vibration feedback. If the PS3 does not support rumble in the console (for
 either existing PS2 or new PS3 games), 5 percent of people indicate that
 they will definitely not buy the PS3, and 32 percent are somewhat less
 likely to purchase, with 14 percent unsure how it might affect their
 purchase decision. Fewer than half (46 percent) reported they would
 definitely still buy or even be more likely to buy a PS3.
     Todd Board, senior vice president of Ipsos Insight, said: "There's a
 lot of chatter about how next-gen consoles and highlighted features may
 shake up the console market-share picture. What's interesting about this
 study is that, although it focuses on what many may see as a secondary
 purchase driver, in fact a majority of console gamers use rumble/vibration
 quite regularly and clearly value it, and a majority expect existing
 rumble/vibration capability to carry forward to the PS3. In addition, a
 majority don't currently realize Sony's PS3 controllers won't allow for
 this backwards compatibility, and that there's no particular reason to
 expect third-party solutions to fill that gap. In light of the price
 premium we've all seen discussed regarding PS3, this appears to be a
 potentially hidden but pervasive risk factor attached to their release
 strategy. A whole lot more gamers clearly value rumble than have had any
 chance to try or place any value on motion/tilt sensing. Certainly there's
 little evidence in our data that motion/tilt sensing should come at the
 expense of rumble."
     Study Design and Results
     Ipsos Insight drew the sample of age 18+ console gamers from the Ipsos
 North America online panel of over 800,000 U.S. households. These panelist
 households are pre-profiled on a wide range of measures, including presence
 of a gaming console in the household. Participants were first screened for
 number of hours spent playing video console games per week. All respondents
 playing more than four hours per week completed a 10-minute Internet
 questionnaire. The detailed questions gathered data on typical game play,
 propensity to purchase next-generation consoles, and opinions about console
 features including backward compatibility, motion/tilt sensing control, and
 rumble/vibration feedback technology. Data were collected between Aug. 21
 and Aug. 28, 2006. With a total sample size of 1,075, one can say with 95
 percent certainty that the results are accurate to within +/- 3.0
 percentage points.
     A full report on the survey is available to journalists through A&R
     Contact Alexandra Skillman at 650-762-2842 or askillman@ar-
     This release can also be viewed online at:
     CONTACT: on this press release, please contact: Todd Board, Ipsos
 Insight, (415) 597-4013,

SOURCE Ipsos Insight