Will Nintendo really be threatened by Microsoft, Sony motion controllers?

Sony and Microsoft have officially announced that their motion control add-ons to the PS3 and Xbox 360 will be coming in 2010, but it's debatable whether Nintendo even cares about motion anymore.

Note to the overexcited: Remember the Sixaxis. Ubergizmo

If 2010 equals Battle of the 3D Televisions for home entertainment, then in video games it might be the Battle of Motion Controllers. With Microsoft's Project Natal promised to be available by holiday 2010 and Sony's motion controller now pushed to a fall 2010 launch as well, the Nintendo Wii looks like it will have tons of company in the world of newfangled control schemes.

How will Nintendo survive, with a system that's technically the most archaic with the exception of its innovative controller? If the Xbox 360 and PS3 offer motion controls to equal or rival what the Wii is capable of even with its Wii Motion Plus upgrade released earlier this year, the house of Mario might seem a bit hamstrung.

That is, of course, if Nintendo even cares about motion control anymore. The funny thing lately is, with the exception of the Wii Sports series and Nintendo's Wii Balance Board, motion controls haven't been first and foremost in Nintendo's focus. New Super Mario Bros. Wii , which has been selling millions of copies over the winter, only uses the basic wand part of the controller, abandoning the nunchuck and only using motion for very simple shaking moves. Super Mario Galaxy also uses standard control schemes, and it's highly probable that big 2010 games like Metroid: Other M will do the same. Third parties aren't much different. In fact, finding games that support the Wii Motion Plus add-on, which creates more accurate one-to-one mapping of moves, is a daunting task indeed.

It would be great to see Nintendo announce a Wii 2 , but the greater challenge seems to face Sony and Microsoft. Announcing motion control is one thing, but making great games using the technology is the real challenge. Sony has already tried and failed with its Sixaxis controller, learning the hard way that old-fashioned controls were just more reliable and comfortable. Both Microsoft and Sony have also had a hard time finding any useful applications for their USB cameras, relegating them mainly to junk drawers in gamer homes.

That's not to say that optimism can't shine through; Apple did achieve success with a button-free iPhone/iPod Touch gaming platform, although the success might be better attributed to the App Store's affordable pricing and the ubiquitous portability of Apple's devices. Do you care about motion control as the future of gaming, or is it a gimmick? Would you rather see next-gen systems with better hardware instead? Let us know below.

About the author

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.

 

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