Remember when the news of the Nintendo Wii was met with uproarious laughter and contemptuous ridicule from the gaming community? No? To be honest I don’t really blame you for blocking that memory out. When I first heard that Ninty were trying to flog this “motion-control” rubbish, I scoffed so loudly that the sound of my snobbish disapproval made its way to the ears of Shigeru Miyamoto, sitting atop the rotting corpse of Sonic The Hedgehog in the Mushroom Kingdom, and when he heard my guffaws he started sobbing with shame.
Okay, so that last sentence wasn’t entirely true (except for the Sonic thing of course), but my point remains: very few of us believed that motion-control would work. And now look where we are. Knee-deep in new gadgetry, that allows us to play our videogames by flailing our arms wildly and kicking our feet at the TV screen as if we were a dancer in an overweight Can-can line-up.
So now that the Wii, PlayStation Move and Microsoft Kinect have all shown us what they have to offer, what have we learnt from our experiences with them that we hope will be improved upon when the next inevitable batch of motion-controlled gaming comes our way? Here are 4 things that we hope the next-gen consoles take on board when trying to convince us that paying $150 in order to humiliate ourselves in our own homes is a good thing.
Half-assed implementation doesn’t work.
Games like Child of Eden succeed because they are built from the ground up to be played using motion controls. I understand why developers would want to attach Move/Kinect compatibility to their titles in order to improve their sales, but I think we have now finally reached that point where we can all agree that simply slapping the capability to control your character using a series of unresponsive arm movements isn’t the best direction for motion-control to take. Why not? Because we already have something to control our in-game character. It’s called a standard wireless controller.
Motion-controls work when they offer players a new way to experience gaming. They do not work when they offer players a new way to help Heavy Rain’s Ethan pour a glass of orange juice.
It’s called “shovelware” for a reason.
While throwing as many mediocre mini-game collections into your repertoire may seem like a good idea initially, in the long-run it’s only going to hurt your sales as the consumer becomes tired of purchasing “Untitled Bowling Game #36” and instead reverts back to the classic gamepad for some good ol’ fashioned quality gameplay.
You need only look at the Wii’s steady decline recently to see how a company’s dependence upon low-rent shovelware to boost their game library can negatively impact their company image, and while Nintendo’s refusal to allow anything other than poor sports titles and unimaginative kart racers to be released on their console may mean that they aren’t spending money on securing quality third-party titles, it also means that no one has bought a Wii since Christmas.
Motion-control isn’t for the lonely gamer.
If you plan on spending your weekend sitting alone in your bedroom with nothing but your PS3 and a personal pizza, chances are you aren’t going to invest in a copy of Start the Party to distract you from your crippling loneliness.
As of yet developers haven’t managed to create a link between motion-control and quality single-player content in gamers minds. While the technology is certainly there for them to make something other than another game where you joyfully humiliate yourself in front of your friends, at the moment they haven’t quite grasped how to translate arm and leg waggling into a story driven experience.
At the moment motion-control is for the young, the old and the inebriated. Until developers can figure out a way of enticing gamers into playing through a 4-hour campaign using their arms as guns then it will always be this way.
Bundle it with Wii Sports…
…or something equally as addictive.
Let’s face facts: if the Wii hadn’t have been bundled with Wii Sports, it wouldn’t have sold twice as well as it did on launch day. Wii Sports made the console the perfect gift for Christmas, by making it so that it appealed to everyone from your little brother to your incontinent grandma.
The Kinect and Move both faltered tremendously when it came to their respective launch line-ups, and although neither of them undersold, they would have both benefited hugely from having a killer title upon release rather than the mini-game collections, Wii Sports knock-offs and tiger cub stroking simulations that they did.