Watching Microsoft’s E3 2011 press conference, I couldn’t help but think Microsoft must not know the Wii came out five years ago, and that 70 million or 80 million households purchased the Wii. Otherwise how you could explain the Kinect Golf demo during their E3 conference? Some will say the opposite. Microsoft knows the Wii came out and knows the Wii has been successful, so let’s make sure our system has similar experiences. I do not view it that way.
I say “been there, done that.” If I really wanted to play motion-control golf all these years, I would have purchased a Wii. And that I did. As did another 80+ million households. The last thing I want in my entertainment is a knock-off experience. Either I will get the great original experience or I won’t. I’m not going to wait five years and see a copycat version. The original experience is almost always the best. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I want LEGOs, not Megablocks. I want Coke, not Shasta.
So who are they selling to here? Xbox 360 owners who never purchased a Wii and have kids? A small portion of Wii owners who see the non-controller as a new experience, oblivious to the fact that the experience will be similar?
The same thing screamed out when Fable Journey was shown during Microsoft’s E3 press conference, and Kinect Star Wars, and even the period-piece game from our beloved Crytek. No one wanted to play these types of games on the Wii, and as a result they didn’t sell. Gaming sites routinely ripped these games because you couldn’t control your character. So it would be a miracle if these games sell on the Xbox 360 unless they are priced significantly less than $60. Anyone who played these games on the Wii knows that the “gimmick” of motion control wore off quickly. You could only take this stuff in small doses before it became repetitive, and you grew less enamored with the unreliability and delay of motion control the more you played.
What kind of gamers want to use awkward, unreliable motion controls when a quick, crisp button press will do? Sorry, Ghost Recon. Aiming, reloading and viewing your weapon configuration using motion control is going to turn out to be a poor substitute.
All I can say is Microsoft could not have been paying attention to the Wii here. I’ll even take back that they didn’t know the Wii sold 80 million. They did. But they didn’t delve into the scenario further than the sales numbers and standard motion controller.
The reality is that Nintendo’s second big Wii game released a good four years ago and included a totally different peripheral (the Wii Bbalance Board). Think about it: Here, a good year into Nintendo’s biggest console success ever, and they already have a new peripheral. And looking back, most of Nintendo’s games made sparse use of motion controls after Wii Sports and Wii Play, neither of which was a full-blown title in and of itself.
A little shake here, a little tilt there, and those were in addition to the standard controls. In some cases, motion control was totally optional. Mario Kart? Super Smash Bros Brawl? No motion control necessary. Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Bros. used it sparingly — essentially shake to spin. And why is that? Nintendo is a talented group of game developers. Why wouldn’t they just do motion control?
The answer is that Microsoft was never focused on motion control itself, but in new ways to play that were fun. If they couldn’t make it fun and already had a similar gameplay experience, you wouldn’t see it again. They didn’t have motion control on the brain. I can only conclude that they found they can only do so much with motion control. And that they viewed it just as they viewed rumble and the analog stick back in the N64 days: use it where it makes sense and adds to the experience. Don’t use it just to use it.
This is what struck me while watching the Microsoft E3 press conference yesterday. They were much more into the tech for tech’s sake. They were using the technology just to use it. They were eager to show that all their games could do motion control. But they didn’t really seem to have given thought into how it’s all gone down long-term for the Wii. Based on what I’ve experienced on the Wii, I do not believe any of these motion control games will sell well.
And if the rumors prove true tomorrow, Nintendo may be abandoning the Wii Remote and Nunchuk as their default control. Makes you think Microsoft is following a red herring.