When the Wii was announced, many mocked it. As a hardcore gamer I saw limited appeal, but there were certain ideas that sounded pretty awesome. Slicing and dicing or playing tennis through a motion controlled console did sound exciting, however it didn’t feel like a suitable investment and eventually bought myself a PS3. Since then I gave the Wii a brief consideration from time to time but there didn’t seem enough to warrant purchasing it.
Without a doubt Mario Kart on the Wii was an excellent experience but none of the other games that I sampled had me sold. Enjoyable, sure, but not something that I’d shell out a few hundred quid on (not forgetting that on top of your console, you’ll want several games and spare controllers). There are of course several terrific games but not especially more than titles I have on the PS3, 360 or PC.
Then the Kinect came along but I wasn’t overly excited. Having not been “wowed” by the Wii or the general concept of getting up to play games. There have been times that I considered a purchase but there were three deterrents. First and foremost is simply the entire “you are the controller” and getting up and about. I don’t fancy re-arranging my living room to play a game with limited appeal and more importantly, those living beneath my flat wouldn’t appreciate it. Even moreso if I tried gathering a bunch of people together for a party game. Secondly I have noticed a distinct lack of appeal in the games. There’s very few, if any, titles that I can see myself getting more than a dozen hours of enjoyment out of. Finally we come to the cost. Whilst a game can be bought on impulse, the Kinect isn’t cheap, making it a considered purchase and upon consideration, points one and two apply.
Whilst I’ve enjoyed my brief flirtations with the Wii and Kinect, its certainly not enough to convince me to make a purchase. But what about the Wii U? The ability to have a map or inventory. Perhaps it could be used to clear up and simplify GUIs, however it is going to require the user to take away focus from the game. Either its risky mid action or requires pausing so what are we gaining? Being able to use the controller like a scope could create some novel and original games, but most of these are unlikely to become exceptionally popular games. As with many great and loveable titles, you’ll adore them for an hour or two then leave them to gather dust. The ability to switch off the TV is a big bonus for families and a wonderful idea, but of course that isn’t a problem for everyone. Not many people with consoles in the bedrooms or in a place to themselves are ever going to find a need for it.
For me, motion gaming is unlikely to develop into anything more than a novelty and one that just isn’t practical. It deserves a lot of praise for widening the games market, along with the likes of Brain Training, but the future of gaming? I think not. It is unlikely to pull in the hardcore market. In addition to whether the gameplay appeals, there are practicality reasons why many people won’t have motion based games. As I mentioned earlier, you need space and lets not forget that a massive portion of the market don’t have their console in the main room of a house. In flats you have neighbours to consider, who won’t appreciate people playing a game involving plenty movement in the flat above. Many living rooms are small and of course many teenagers, students and alike will keep their console in their bedroom, a place usually unsafe for walking around, let alone playing a motion based game.
The reaction of Microsoft and Sony to join in isn’t necessarily because they believe that in 5 years time we’ll all be prancing out our rooms but rather that there was a substantial market left to just the Wii. Nintendo look to be trying to react by bringing in the hardcore gamers, promising HD graphics as well as trying to bring in some major brands. Personally I think they may be 12 months too late as the Kinect may be up to speed by then but ultimately they may have blown it all simply by calling their console the “Wii U”.