With the introduction of the Nintendo Wii to the next generation console war, gaming changed forever due to its motion control functionality. Suddenly, an entirely new crop of people started to pick up a controller. Which is exactly what Nintendo was banking on. Currently the Nintendo Wii is the most successful console in video game history with over 86 million units sold worldwide. The console was geared towards families, and sought to change the way games are played. As the sales illustrate, Nintendo succeeded in a big way. The Wii was only the 1st to implement motion control into it’s games.
After the record-breaking success of the Nintendo Wii, its competitors whose consoles appeal predominantly to hardcore gamers, jumped head first into the motion gaming war. Microsoft and Sony seeking to claim a stake in motion control unveiled their new console peripherals at E3 last year. Microsoft revealed Kinect (originally called Project Natal). Kinect is a motion control tracking sensor that enables users to play games without controllers as well as use Voice command to control in game and dashboard functions. Sony unveiled the Playstation Move as its answer to the Wii. Move is a wand peripheral with movement tracking capabilities. It is in some ways similar to the Wii remote, but ultimately differs greatly due to the inherently different nature of the 2.
Xbox and playstation’s counters to the Wii have expanded the marketplace. Now all 3 consoles offer their own version of motion control each with its own unique games and experiences. This balance brings about a logical question. Is motion control gaming and where it’s headed beneficial for the gaming industry as a whole?
Motion control has provided some positive and negative contributions to the industry. On the one hand its brought in a massively new audience to video games ultimately benefiting everybody. It’s also changed many people’s perceptions of what a video game has to and potentially could be. Also it has created new experiences for players. But on the other hand, many motion control games overly rely on the interactive capabilities that Wii, Kinect, and Move provide. The result is games that are mechanically broken, and not fun for players. This negatively hurts developers as well as the industry as a whole because money invested into these lesser titles goes to waste along with the time put in by developers. It is up to them to make the best quality games that work well with motion control. Many gamers have yet to buy into the motion control movement. Lack of quality titles is a factor, along with the polarizing nature of motion control. If developers can create experiences casual enough to appeal to all audiences, Kinect and Playstation Move will get a taste of the success that the Wii has been enjoying. Unlike its newer competitors, Nintendo’s Wii has mastered casual titles perfectly implementing them with its motion sensor. Titles such as Wii Sports, Mario Kart Wii, and the Red Steel franchise have set the blueprint for what makes good motion control games.
Motion Control continues to grow in popularity in the video game industry. Recently at E3 many new titles offering it in some form or another were revealed, including Star Wars Kinect, Forza Motorsport 4, a newly revealed Fable, etc. The biggest reveal of E3 was Nintendo’s newest console the Wii U. This new system focuses on the controller as opposed to the console itself. It’s controller is touchscreen, and most significantly can transition from being played traditionally on a TV to serving as a handheld device without having to stop playing the game. From what Nintendo showed at E3, the touchscreen controller can also be used uniquely with motion control games. The example shown in the trailer showed the player playing a golf game, with the ball and tee being shown on the controller screen as she hit it as opposed to hitting it off the TV. This concept has huge potential for Nintendo to yet again turn the gaming world upside down. Motion Control is still such a new concept in gaming yet its evolving remarkably fast. What we can expect in the near future is many new experiences for every preference. Though a baby in the industry, motion control continues to make itself a powerful force, now being offered on all 3 consoles. Over time the games will improve, and reach wider audiences, but for now its satisfied with its casual gamer market. You may not like motion control gaming yourself, but it is here to stay, so you’d better be prepared gamers.