When legendary video game maker Nintendo first released the Wii (the first motion control console in gaming history) at the end of 2006, its chief rivals quickly dismissed the console as a gimmick. Even as the Wii was grabbing market shares from more established consoles like Xbox 360 and PS3, gaming critics continued to write off motion control gaming as a fad rather than a leading indicator of future video gaming. Over 70 million Wiis sold later, Nintendo’s rivals have finally waved the white flag. With the releases of Kinect and Move, Microsoft and Sony are too joining the motion control craze. In this article, I will discuss Xbox Kinect and PS Move as well as offer my predictions on whether they can supplant the Nintendo Wii as the king of motion control gaming.
When competing against a well-established product like the Wii, one has to either offer a significantly improved product or provide an entire new experience. Microsoft has decided to go with the latter. Its new product, the Kinect, aims to take motion control gaming a step further. Gamers can now play games without a need for a remote or control device. The Kinect is capable of recognizing hand gestures & body movements and translates them onto screen. For example, shifting your body to a certain direction will cause your game avatar to do the same. Movements like jumping and leaping are also perfectly captured. Another cool feature is the fact that you can interact with game menus using hand gestures. Think of the cool scenes from the movie Minority Report.
One of the major complaints against the Nintendo Wii is that its motion control (even with the addition of the motion plus add-on) is not accurate enough. With the PS Move, Sony hopes to target such sentiments by offering a much improved motion-control system. Not only the Move can read one’s gestures, it also offers body position tracking. This means that you can’t cheat the system (like many have done playing Wii Tennis) by gently flicking the remote when you suppose to swing it hard. The Move will detect for the correct movements and gauge how much force you have put into these movements. Consequently, the system allows for a more realistic experience.
Will Kinect and Move put a dent in Nintendo Wii’s dominance? The key advantage that the Wii has over the new devices is the fact the system is built on motion control gaming. On the other hand, Kinect and Move are only add-ons to Xbox 360 and PS3. Owners of the two consoles will have to purchase the devices separately if they want to enjoy motion control gaming. For many consumers, it is hard to justify an additional purchase when you can enjoy motion control gaming from the start with the Nintendo Wii.
Another advantage is the fact that the Wii is a known commodity. When one thinks of motion control gaming, the system comes foremost in mind. It will take a massive marketing push from both Microsoft and Sony to change that sentiment. Additionally, the two devices (not bundled with the consoles) each are set to cost nearly as much as the Wii console. This will definitely not bode well with belt-tightening consumers.
Between Xbox Kinect and PS Move, the former appears to have a better chance of success. While the Move is essentially an upgrade from the Wii, the Kinect manages to distinguish itself from the Wii by eliminating the need for a game controller entirely. This is sure to be a big selling point, as people always look for new and unique experiences rather than improved products. In conclusion, it is not to say that the Kinect and Move are doomed to fail, but both are unlikely to replicate the same success enjoyed by the Wii.