Why motion sensing on other consoles won’t matter

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.

12 Responses to Why motion sensing on other consoles won’t matter

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think that NINTENDO is pretty used to being copied by now. There are so many similarities between APPLE and NINTENDO. Both Co. get bluntly copied, but people with common sense know that the original is always better than the pale copy.
    Look at the ZUNE and the iPod, the geek syndrom keeps following its path.

    NINTENDO was copied by every single Co. when they came out with the R and L button, as well as the 4 button scheme on the Super Nintendo (a.k.a. Supa Famicon).

    Anyway, I am sure that if other Co. copy the motion sensitive controllers (Hum, can we say SONY, in that case already?) NINTENDO will come up with an even better idea, and will always be a step further in creative sense.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree, but I think one important part was left out. Nintendo built the Wii around motion and not the other way around. If the other companies add motion it will only be an accessory (like the eye toy or dance pad). It will only cater to a very select group. Accessories never sell all that well. However, the Wii is motion first which means devlopers make games with motion in mind first. If the Xbox were to add motion, devolpers would still think graphics and regular controllers before motion. Just look at the PS3. It has motion, but very few devlopers are even using it.

  3. used routers says:

    I especially liked this line:

    “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.”

    First, I totally agree. Second, think about this for a second. In most cases, these comments are referring to Wii-sports which many claim could be done on the N64 graphically. So if the Wii is so fun that you can overload N64 era graphics, imagine how great it can be with gamecubeX2 Graphics.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Gaming is doing a zig”

    MOVE EVERY ZIG! For great justice!

    Sorry, I had to.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’d be willing to bet Microsoft is hard at work on the MSMotion controller as we speak.

    “The Freedom to Innovate.”

  6. Anonymous says:

    “I’d be willing to bet Microsoft is hard at work on the MSMotion controller as we speak.”

    No, because they had one years ago.

    Joystiq reported Sony owns the patent on Wii’s motion sensing method, and Sony is apparently suing Nintendo for it.

    “NINTENDO was copied by every single Co. when they came out with the R and L button, as well as the 4 button scheme on the Super Nintendo (a.k.a. Supa Famicon).”

    Nintendo came up with none of that. Atari had shoulder buttons for example

  7. Rollin says:

    WiiSports has GameCube+ graphics.

  8. Rezlow says:

    I don’t understand the uninformative nature of this rhetoric. (Nor do I understand the abundance of Anon posts…)

    Nothing in gaming today is particularly inovative; Nintendo has merely taken a unique approach, coupled with some risk in change (minor risk, this is already proven hardware). More than the other two systems, this is 1.5 of last gen. All they have done is provided a new kind of controller. The input signal has changed. There is no reason the others can’t provide the same input system (provide they can dance the patent-dance). And when they do, there will be non-Nintendo-own ports to be had.

    I do agree that if Wii’s wand succeeds into the mainstream, it will be copied; shamelessly and blatently. What it will not mark the downfall of the “copy-cats.”

    Only we geeks will call foul, the rest of the world will say, “hey, cool” and move on.

  9. Raptor says:

    Really, as someone else above said, what it comes down to is that the Wiimote is in the box when you buy the Wii. It’s not an addon, or an extra accessory. Sony and MS can both produce extra, motion-sensing controllers, but they won’t have the penetration the Wii has, because developers cannot assume everyone has one, so they have to either code for just the normal controller, or code for both the normal controller and a motion sensor. The vast majority will take the easy way out, and just write for the controller everyone has.

  10. Protector one says:

    I fear that you are forgetting something… What happens the NEXT generation… Surely, if Wii is the success we all hope it will be, both Microsoft and Sony will also be employing motion sensing devices. Knowing both companies, they will try to make it vastly superior compared to anything else out there (read: the wiimote).
    So what will Nintendo do? As for innovation: I have no idea. As for graphics, they will finally go HD but now have 5 years less experience with working with HD and super pixel shaded graphics. So graphics-wise Nintendo is screwed. At least for two generations.
    So what is my point? Well, uhm… I hope Nintendo invents something really interesting in the coming years, or they might have just driven themselves in a nasty cul-de-sac.

  11. InvisibleMan says:

    Well, protector one, that’s assuming the current players are still around for the next-gen wars four or five years from now! That is a VERY unlikely proposition…

  12. duckhuntdude says:

    “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).”

    Hehe @ the Zune comment.

    Q: But on the copycat topic: Who had Rumble/Analogue Sticks first? And who will find entry into history books for “industry standard controller”?

    A: Nintendo and Sony.

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