All right, well, it looks like I get to eat my own words. Last year, I published an article entitled “The Death of Motion Controllers” which detailed my predictions that motion-controlled games would largely die out with the overabundance of controllers and low-quality games.
I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
It doesn’t change my opinion; I still think that motion control in gaming is a trend, and one that won’t necessarily survive this generation of consoles. However, it seems that the motion controller market is doing well, despite the addition of two new (and expensive) technologies.
First, the PlayStation Move: in my honest opinion, I thought the Move would die out relatively quickly. It’s essentially a more powerful version of the Wii-Mote, with improved tracking capabilities. It seemed like a rip-off of Nintendo’s successes with motion control. Surprisingly, it works better than Nintendo’s Wii-Mote, as it is much more sensitive in terms of motion tracking. While the technology seems to work, it isn’t supported by a large number of high-quality games. A large number of launch-window games were simply crap, with titles like Kung Fu Riders and The Fight: Lights Out receiving average scores of 40%. Hopefully, full-featured titles like No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise and Sorcery will put the technology to better use. Either way, the Move controller still sold well, selling around 8 million units by the end of 2010.
The Xbox Kinect was definitely the most unique out of the three. Ignoring the traditional, hand-held controller in favor of a camera that tracks full-body movements. The only thing that I thought would hold the Kinect back would be its price: the Kinect sells at retail for $149.99, which is only $50 cheaper than the Xbox console itself. In terms of games, Microsoft fell into the same trap that Nintendo did when the Wii launched: several of the launch titles were minigame compilations. Games like Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports did better overall than the PlayStation Move, averaging at around 70%, but there were still no true hardcore games. Nevertheless, the camera itself sold extremely well, selling over 10 million units by March 2011.
It goes without saying that the Wii is the undisputed sales powerhouse of this generation. It is the video game console that created the casual market, and singlehandedly put a video game in over 50% of U.S. homes. The WiiMotionPlus further extended the Wii-Motes’ capabilities, and the library of games has been relatively varied over the past four years. However, the Wii’s steam has started to run out, as sales of the console are constantly dropping month-by-month. It makes sense, then, that Nintendo has shifted its focus: the 3DS and Project Café (Nintendo’s next console) are quickly becoming the company’s focus. Nintendo has stated that Project Café will be backwards compatible with Wii games and all the motion control implied therein, but it seems that the Wii may indeed be on its way out.
In short, motion-controlled gaming is still alive and well. Despite my initial predictions, the new controllers are performing well, both in terms of sales and critical reception. The Wii, while not as great a force as it once was, is still going strong. It may be a while before the next slew of high profile, hardcore games, but for the time being, it seems that the gaming industry will stick with motion controls.