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It's now well over a year since the rumours of Wiimote-alike controllers in development at both Microsoft and Sony first surfaced - but even if several supposed unveilings haven't come to fruition, the evidence for the existence of such projects has only become more compelling in the past 12 months.
From loose-lipped developers who claim to have seen or worked on prototype hardware, publishers who have supposedly been briefed and various other sources, information about motion controllers has gone from a trickle to a flood in the past few months. All the signs point to one platform holder, at least, finally going public at E3 - with Microsoft the most likely candidate, since Sony may wish to focus attention on the probable reveal of its updated PSP hardware.
Yet, in all of this, there has been remarkably little consideration of what motion controls actually mean to the videogames market. The unspoken assumption is that the Wii has a motion control system, and the Wii is the fastest-selling console with the broadest appeal in the industry's history - therefore, motion controls can help companies to tap into that extraordinary market.
The reality is rather more complex. Motion control is certainly an important part of the Wii's success story, having allowed Nintendo to craft interfaces which are friendly and intuitive, dispensing with decades of development on joypads which have left them complicated, intimidating and altogether over-specified for the majority of the potential audience.
However, motion control is only one part of the equation. The Wii isn't a success story because it allows people to wave their arms around - it's a success story due to a remarkable, synergistic combination between the hardware, the software, the services, the business model and the marketing.
Few of the 50 million people who have put Wii consoles into their front rooms did so because they liked the "idea" of motion control. They bought a Wii because of Wii Sports (perhaps the most inspired pack-in bundle in the industry's history), or because of subsequent releases like Mario Galaxy and Wii Fit. They were pushed in that direction by good marketing and powerful word of mouth, spread both through traditional channels and through social networking sites.
Their purchasing decisions were made possible by a business model which eschewed the hardware battles of the past in favour of selling older systems at lower prices - and Nintendo's bottom line was guaranteed by carefully avoiding the razors-and-razorblades model, making every unit sold profitable so that even casual customers who only pick up a couple of games a year are still valuable customers.
That's a pretty broad ecosystem, and each component of it has been crucial to the success of the Wii. Given this, just how much impact can the launch of a motion control peripheral make on the fortunes of another console?
The Wii teaches us an important lesson - you can't sell peripherals or hardware features to a wide audience. You have to sell games, and in that instance, you can turn peripherals or hardware features into a selling point. Wii Fit's balance board is one of the most successful peripherals in history, having an installed base comparable to the PS3 by some measures I've seen - but nobody bought it because a balance board is cool, they bought it because it comes packed with Wii Fit.
In other words, the hardware launch really isn't all that important, unless it's attached to a must-have piece of software. For an example of a somewhat botched launch, look no further than the cameras which can be attached to both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 - peripherals which patently failed to build on the success of the PS2's EyeToy software, presumably because somewhere along the line, someone decided that having a camera attached to the console was an end in itself, rather than a means to an end.
Today, those cameras' existence is generally justified by little-used video chat features and comedy gamer pictures. Had either company made the effort, they could have been providing a Nintendo-combating competitive difference right from the outset. It's probably too late now, and besides, motion control rather than video analysis technology is the buzzword of the moment. Yet these largely unused and unloved peripherals serve as a stark warning; it doesn't matter how much money is thrown at attaching motion controllers to the PS3 and Xbox 360, if they're sold as new controllers rather than as amazing new games which happen to use new controllers, they will find the market largely disinterested.
There's also, of course, some question over exactly who these new controllers would appeal to. Naysayers point out that Nintendo has already sewn up the casual market, with newcomers to gaming unlikely to drop money on yet another console in the next few years. However, it's important to realise that Nintendo's market is still less than half the size of the PS2's installed base, suggesting that the industry's tapping of the casual audience is still only in its infancy. It's also worth considering that supported by an excellent software title, a new peripheral can neatly sidestep the question of target audience - if the game is appealing enough, it will draw both new customers and those from the existing installed base.
It's a constant feature of that games industry that it obsesses over hardware and technology - a bizarre affliction for an industry whose creativity and, ultimately, profitability is grounded in software, design and artistry. Yet for decades we have seen that the most powerful console rarely ends up being the best-selling system, with the Wii being the most dramatic proof of that assertion yet.
If and when the other platform holders do announce new controllers, their manner of doing so will be a clear sign of future success. Motion control isn't magical hardware pixie dust which can be sprinkled over a console to make it appealing to the mainstream audience - aside from the basic "does it work" consideration, the hardware will matter little. The software needs to be right there, front and centre, at any announcement - if the firm has nothing but a few anaemic mini-games to demonstrate, then alarm bells need to be sounded about where these devices are headed.
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