Monday, January 23, 2012

Motion Controller Success - It's What's In the Box

I have been reading some reviews for the latest Kinect games, and I find a common thread; these games are terrible. But no one really seems to understand why. I have a very simple explanation, and it involves what's in the box when you buy the console.

The Nintendo Wii came out a few years ago with a motion controller packaged in the box. Packaging the Wii remote in with the box that you buy the console allows a few things. Number one, you appeal to an untapped, massive audience that is NOT hard-core gamers. These "casual" gamers now have a simple and intuitive controller interface to move your character around on screen. You don't have to mess with confusing 15 button controllers. Number two, you attract third-party developers to create games for your motion controller videogame system. Why? Because third-party developers know that if a family owns a Wii, then they own motion controllers. Therefore, if you make a game for the Nintendo Wii, anyone that owns a Wii will be able to buy and enjoy your game.

This last simple concept is what Sony and Microsoft fail to realize. Now, they jumped on the bandwagon of motion control and came out with the Move and Kinect, respectively. These two companies realized that Nintendo was tapping into a market that they had no share in. However, they failed to realize how the Wii was a success with motion control; it's because the Wii remote was packaged in with the console. Microsoft actually did very well with the launch of their Kinect, but its appeal was short-lived. There were a few really good titles at launch of the Kinect (e.g., Dance Central), but there haven't been many great titles in the last year of its existence.

Some people purchased the Kinect with the notion that they were buying a brand-new system, and that many great games would flood the market. They couldn't have been more wrong. Just look at items like these in the past. Look at the Sega CD or 32X attachments for the Sega Genesis. These were pretty cool to get at first, but they quickly ran out of quality titles because not only did you have to have a Sega CD, you also had to have a Sega Genesis. And just because you have a Sega Genesis, does not mean that you have a Sega CD. Therefore, Sega CD owners are a very small population of the gaming community. This puts a huge strain on first party developers (i.e., Sega) to come up with good titles for these attachments. Why? Because third-party developers (e.g., Konami) are not going to bank on their strong titles to thrive in an environment where a small gaming community exists. Fast forward to today, and you have the Move and Kinect.

So, the next time you're thinking about creating an add-on for a current generation gaming system, maybe hold off using that idea until you come out with your next-generation gaming system, and ship it in the box.

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