So the year is now 2010. That's about 4.5 years after the release of the XBOX 360 and 3.5 years for the PS3 and Wii. The video gaming industry has been a very busy and interesting ride since 2005. Innovation has been the key to success in this day and age. No longer do you have to play a game by yourself. From the seat of your couch, you can play someone from around the world with very little effort.
The Wii has their consumers and potentials interest with their motion controls; getting the players up from the couch and get into the game. The XBOX 360 now has social networking features and enhanced multimedia interfaces (Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm, Zune Videos). The PlayStation 3 has Blu-Ray capabilities, social network integration and hardware upgrade capabilities to name a few.
I'm no fanboy of any of the systems considering I own all 3 of them but it appears that one of them is starting to lose its momentum: the Nintendo Wii. SHOCKING!!
The Wii has been on the gravy train for a long time now. For more than two years, Nintendo has been on a hot streak of crushing the competition. Yet, all good things must come to an end. A few months ago, the XBOX 360 actually outsold the Wii. The PlayStation 3, with its recent price drop to $299, outperformed the Wii as well; generating revenue in new console sales and games. You know things aren't going well when the Satoru Iwata, the President of Nintendo, says "Wii has stalled."
Their greatest setback is also their greatest strength; reaching as many consumers as possible. With over 50 million Wii units sold across the world, Nintendo may literally be running out of customers. Anyone who wanted to a Wii most likely already has one. That, combined with weak 3rd party support and obscurity with their 1st party titles, has left Nintendo in a rut. To make matters worse, 3rd party publishers have decided to pull their support for the Wii due to lackluster sales. Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and Capcom are starting to back off from the Wii in favor for the XBOX 360 and PlayStation 3. Their explanations in a nutshell? The Wii's bad sales will eventually hurt our profits. Our product on the Wii only sold 20,000 copies; which is far below standards. Most of our products on the hi-def systems push at least 1,000,000 copies. Therefore, we are developing for a system that will actually bring in more sales in order to deliver an excellent product for the consumer.
This past E3, Microsoft unveiled their new motion sensing interface: Project Natal. Think of it as an interactive webcam with a full range of motion capabilities. You interact with it and it with you. My immediate thought was, "Too late, Microsoft. You missed the boat by a mile." Maybe I'm a traditional gamer but this just doesn't suit me. It seems Microsoft is trying to take some of Nintendo's consumer base by creating their form of casual entertainment. Yet, individuals at E3 claim that Natal is a mess. Terrible calibration, unresponsiveness and bugs makes Natal on the watch list of failure. But, since Microsoft still has time for Natal releases this holiday season, most of the issues may be worked out by then.
Finally, Sony finally unveiled their motion controller named the "PlayStation Move". Think of the controller as a Wii Remote but bigger. I can't comment too much on it for the time being, but considering its support of more than 35 gaming companies and its ability to work with games that are already out, I am quite impressed. Maybe Sony can recoup more money from every PlayStation 3 sold until it at least breaks even.
Clearly, this is the year of the motion control. Sony and Microsoft have to thank Nintendo for its success with the Wii. Now, they have their take on what's successful.
Can Sony and Nintendo really pull it off? We can only know when the holiday season is upon us.
Project Natal's Release Date: Holiday 2010 Project Natal's Price Point: Around $80-$100 PlayStation Move Release Date: Holiday 2010 PlayStation Move Price Point: Around $100 with the bundle (PlayStation Eye and a PS Move title.)