Loss Of Control

“You mean you have to use your hands that’s a babies toy”

When that line was uttered in Back to the Future 2 in 1989 none one could have guessed how true it would become.  The Wii has been the bestselling console practically every month since its release and Sony and Microsoft jumping on the bandwagon with Move and Kinect releasing this and next month respectively. The question is though, what improvements will this new technology bring?

I’ll admit that I bought a Wii pretty soon after launch, played it for a couple months and then put in a box where it still resides to this day. The problem is that for me the motion control thing is pretty much still a gimmick and the problem with putting all your eggs in a gimmick basket (that’s not the best of metaphors but you get the idea) is that once the novelty of the gimmick is taken away what are you left with? Someone once told me, the way to judge a Wii game is with one simple question, is here still a good game without the Wiimote, and sadly the majority of the time the answer is no.

Now that Sony and Microsoft are joining the Nintendo party, what can we expect? Personally it wouldn’t surprise me if Sony pumped out as much shovelware as possible for Move, after all they a bringing what looks and plays like a carbon copy of the Wii to the market only at twice the price and 4 years later they need to strike the iron while it is stone cold.

There is still a market for these games and this type of game but it will eventually suffer from diminishing returns. It will be even faster now that two companies are offering the same experience. I think that this is one gamble to many for Sony, they suffered badly with the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD war and unless they put a lot of money behind Move (including a price cut on the basic PS3) or have a yet to be revealed killer app they will lose again

Kinect on the other hand, has some potential. It may seem like jumping on the bandwagon but take a closer look and you can see that Microsoft have actually taking an idea and put a unique spin on it. Recent reports estimate that Microsoft spent as much as £30,000 on the prototype.  Both Move and the Wii require a controller or something in your hands, Kinect does not. This is both its blessing and its curse. Yes it unique but in order to truly innovate, the next step will be including some sort of kinetic feedback. Kinectimals may look good but stroking a pet is still just waving my arm around like an idiot unless I can feel fur, feel warmth. Kinect Adventures while looking fun and exciting unless I can feel the wind in my hair or the water splashing my face I am still just standing waving my arms like a man possessed. It may seem a little harsh, as current games don’t offer this, which is a fair argument, however current games don’t rely on a control gimmick to sell themselves.

The killer app for Kinect is Dance central, this game requires no feedback other than the music that is playing and the prompts on the screen. It makes full use of the technology available and looks fun to play.

It is up to us to decide what we want to see, we will be voting with our wallets. I will probably in the distant future pick up Kinect as I already own a Wii and don’t play that often so I have no intention of every buying the Wii clone. However I don’t think that we are truly ready for motion controls yet. It is only half a system, we may be at a stage where technologically we can create motion controls and it may be extremely well done, but until Motion controls are more than waving your hands around in front of your face it is not for me. Baby toy or not nothing will beat the good ol’ fashioned controller for me.