Some day, in the not so distant future, there is a dark cloud hanging over Nintendo. It is the day that other major console players introduce a similar motion sensing technology to the Wiimote to the masses and ride the wiive of success that Nintendo has enjoyed with the Wii. Nintendo, stuck with a sub par machine, cannot compete with higher end consoles that now also boast motion sensing. This day will never come.
Now, I’m certainly no expert in why businesses pass or fail the customer test, so let’s get that on the table right now. That said, I’m going to try and explain why (yes, an opinion is forthcoming) motion sensing on “other consoles” won’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
Copy cat syndrome: To be successful, it helps to provide something the customer actually needs, and that doesn’t already exist. If not, you fail (see: The Zune’s future). It doesn’t help to provide something similar but glitzier if something like the Wii is already available, fairly proven, and much less expensive (see iPod clones, Mini Disc, HD formats on DVD). So, when you see those wild tennis racket shaped peripherals we featured a while back, don’t fret. Instead, ask yourself: Haven’t I already seen and played this before on the Wii?
Branding: When it comes to motion sensing and gaming consoles, Wii is the name now and I don’t see that changing. On my local channel 5 newscast this morning, they were playing Wii Tennis. Al Roker was blowing hardcore at Wii Sports on the Today show. Stephen Colbert kicked Nancy Pelosi’s butt on The Colbert Report. People associate full motion gaming, which I think is a big part of gaming’s future, with Nintendo and the Wii. The image, like a recordable CD, has been burned in permanently.
Disruption: It’s been said better in other places, but I’m going to reiterate it here: disruption will win the day for Nintendo. Not power, not speed, and certainly not high price premiums. Gaming is doing a zig right now, while Nintendo zagged. Risky? Bet your ass it is. But the payoff, in one year’s time or so, could be DS in proportions.
Price. Putting lipstick on a pig still gives you a pig, or so the saying goes. It’s in my uneducated opinion that motion sensing by itself doesn’t sell consoles. If I may borrow from a former president ”“ it’s the price, stupid. Throwing motion sensing on top of a system marketed as a premium HD-enabled gaming behemoth is like throwing a match on a healthy fire. It gets lost in the noise of price and power. However, show people the fun of motion sensing and then hit them with a $250 price point and a pack in game that in many respects does exactly as advertised? Victory.
Motion first, everything else second. Wii was designed with motion in mind. It’s at its core and in its chips. To tack it on after the fact is an accessory, which never sells as much as the original technology. [thanks anon in comment section– everyone read that comment too.]
How many times have you read in the past week throughout the various Internet tubes the phrase “after five minutes, graphics didn’t even matter anymore, I was having so much fun.” Now, take that phrase and through the magic of hype and speculation stretch it out over the next year, and I think you’ll see why Wii’s core technology ”“ motion sensing ”“ is in no danger from anything but Nintendo’s own follies. This is not to say there isn’t still potential in power and performance, that’s why there are Ferrari’s ”“ it’s just that in this next stage of gaming it’s no longer going to be the norm. The progressive, controversial side of me welcomes that idea with open arms.