Wii U, Wii Me

Well, here it is, the Wii U demoed at E3.  Word is it’s going to launch last quarter of 2012, which of course means we all know what’s gonna get given at Christmas.  It demoed with quite a few titles (a smart move) and of course is doing the usual Nintendo thing of sucking the oxygen out of the room, which Nintendo is pretty damn good at.

Kotaku’s reviewer is slightly underwhelmed, even though they’re exploding with Wii U cover.  Ubisoft, meanwhile, is heavily invested in the Wii.

I’d actually expect more enthusiasm, but honestly, this is weirdly subdued E3 so far.  I see plenty of twitter complaints on FPS overload, etc.  So I’m trying to take this in context.

My take?  In context:

  • This is, as noted, Nintendo stealing everyone’s thunder.  Despite the Wii’s slow slide into irrelevancy, it was very popular in its time, and came out at the perfect time to get people’s attention.  I sense a nostalgia factor.
  • The launch titles are moderate to quite strong.  The Lego City Undercover, in fact, looks like a winner – basically Lego GTA IV.
  • The oddball controller, of course, has everyone’s attention – that’s what Nintendo does.
  • The new platform is going to help get interest and of course rile up the competition, who seem more focused on other issues.
  • There are new services, so it’s hopeful Nintendo isn’t going to botch the “extended” world.

I’d say a solid launch, with a few advantages, but coming during a tired time.  If Nintendo is smart maybe they can get some energy going.

Steven Savage


Why Motion Control On Game Consoles Isn’t an Edge

The Wii started the whole motion control thing with the Wiimote.  Now as I write this we have the Playstation Move and the Microsoft Kinect adding motion control to their respective consoles.  We are entering an age where everyone can make a total dork of themselves in their living room for the sake of video game entertainment.

As we approach the time where all of us have the chance to scare the cat while playing videogames, one question comes to mind (at least my mind) – does this actually matter to any company or their sales?

I'm not sure, but one thing I've been wondering about, one thing I want to share, is that perhaps this is the wrong question.  I'm starting to think Motion control is going to become "expected" in games consoles.  In short, is it a "new normal"?

Every major console will have Motion control, and of course the usual games that go with it (your usual family entertainment, some others that are expected, etc.).  At that point the question comes up – what makes them different?  What in short is the advantage when everyone is doing it?

I don't think it does to a significant extent.

The consoles have carved out some pretty good niches for themselves.  I don't see adding motion control affecting sales and usage overmuch.   It might at most dilute some competition, but the consoles already have distinct mindshare and pueblo c images.  Changing that is not going to come from releasing some motion control games.

Secondly, motion control is not suited to every game or every type – any experienced gamer has played games that wouldn't work well with point-and-press or waggle-and-wiggle.  There's only so much room for innovation in the games with this control scheme.  I don't think it's going to produce any other revolutions in gaming for now.

What I think motion controls mean is not some radical change or shift in gaming.  I think motion control is going to become the norm because everyone is doing it – and it seems to be expected.  Companies doing motion control will help keep their market, and perhaps expand it slightly – not make radical changes.

So I'm not expecting a revolution.  I don't think Wii players will move to the XBox in droves,  the XBox wont steal PS3 players due to Kinect.  I think this is just expected and normal and means that someone who likes the Wii may play some PS3 games, and the like.  There are many other reasons to buy and play consoles beyond motion controls – and the solid mindshare the consoles have has already defined their markets.

In a few years motion control will just be a normal option for any game console.  It's nothing radical.

Steven Savage