Motion Progress or Motion Catastrophe…?


I am approaching the 2010 gaming year with some trepidation. Announcements are coming left, right and centre that the gaming world as we know it is breaking into a new dawn. That is, a more motion orientated dawn. 

Project Natal and Sony’s Magic Wands are two concepts I can’t quite gather up the excitement for and I honestly wonder where the sales are going to come from. If Sony and Microsoft are expecting sales of avalanche proportions then I fear they have grossly underestimated the market. The ideas are nice but they scream a lack of innovation. The Wii got motion sensing gaming right to a large degree (the Wii Remote is hardly my favourite gaming peripheral but kudos for not making a complete mess of it!), though I dismayed at why the other big players feel the need to jump on the bandwagon. Sony never really hit it off with the EyeToy and I doubt Bill Gates and co. will fare much better with Natal.  In essence and judging by what has been shown, Natal is EyeToy XXL, a figure-rendering piece of technology that mimics the movement of the player. Now I’m all for added immersion in games and I do look forward to those Tomorrow’s World days when we are all strapped to a chair with diodes implanted in our skulls exploring the world of full 3D virtual reality. This however seems some way from that. 

The games market at present is in a great position, consoles are growing ever more powerful and games are following suit by (generally) providing a more immersive, enjoyable and prolonged experience than those of yesteryear. Great, wonderful, fantastic! Keep it going!! Don’t cut production costs of your bread and butter by investing heavily in something that is in danger of being a catastrophic failure. Both Sony and Microsoft are still in their infancy as far as gaming is concerned and would do well to take that into consideration. You only have to look back 20 years to see what over-development did to Sega. The 32X didn’t work, the Mega-CD didn’t sell and the less said about the Saturn the better! I have always applauded Sega for pushing the digital boat out and trying to come up with something innovative. Though the gaming world just wasn’t ready for it. All that investment in the Mega Drive add-ons hindered their budgets when it was time to develop their new console and we ended up with a lacklustre and frankly terrible console. Fast-forward to the Dreamcast, where arguably the budget was a lot better due to their being no messing around with Saturn add-ons and bang! A terrific console! 

Sony and Microsoft both have terrific consoles on the market. Truly world-beating machines. Concentrate your efforts on developing them and leave the casual, family and motion market to Nintendo, who to be honest have that side signed, sealed and in the bag. You run the massive risk of being left out in the cold and unable to further develop your core interests. Sony are lucky to be alive with all the early problems the PS3 experienced and the indifferent attitude developers took to the Sixaxis motion controls. Once that was sorted out the PS3 sky-rocketed and hasn’t looked back. 

I sincerely hope I’m wrong about the motion Wands and Project Natal. I hope they achieve what Sony and Microsoft want them to and take us one step closer to full VR. 

I fear however that I hope against hope and this will all come crashing down…


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