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Wii MotionPlus could be a game-changer

The upcoming accessory for the Nintendo Wii remote is designed to improve motion control. Analysts smell success but debate how fast it will sell.

Wii MotionPlus
Wii MotionPlus will likely make the Wiimote much better. Nintendo

The MotionPlus, a $20 accessory designed to improve motion detection for the Nintendo Wii remote control, will easily sell 10 million units after its market debut on June 8, an analyst contends.

Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter told Edge this week that the majority of those sales will occur when the accessory is bundled with Wii Sports Resort, EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour '10 later this year.

He contends that 20 percent of U.S. and European Wii owners will buy those three titles, helping the Nintendo sell 8 million units of the Wii MotionPlus in just a few months. Pachter predicts another 2 million units will sell with new Wii consoles.

EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich, also interviewed by Edge, isn't so quick to agree. He estimates that only 3 million units of the accessory will sell by the end of 2009 and that sales will reach 10 million units during Nintendo's next fiscal year, which starts in March 2010.

Although they don't agree on exactly when the 10 million mark will be reached, the analysts both predict that the accessory will be popular.

"I expect MotionPlus to be a sneaky success and ultimately attach to at least one third of the (Wii's) installed base," Pachter told Edge.

"Our forecast could be conservative," Divnich added. "Yearly sales could balloon much higher."

In addition to selling well, the MotionPlus is set to transform the Wii experience.

Nintendo, in its announcement of the device last July, said the following:

The Wii MotionPlus accessory attaches to the end of the Wii Remote and, combined with the accelerometer and the sensor bar, allows for more comprehensive tracking of a player's arm position and orientation, providing players with an unmatched level of precision and immersion. Every slight movement players make with their wrist or arm is rendered identically in real time on the screen, providing a true 1:1 response in their game play.

The Wii is fun, but it's far from perfect. I've played dozens of games on the console--obviously, without the upcoming accessory. In almost every title, I've had at least one issue, during which my movements weren't in line with the character on the screen. It's been frustrating.

I have this issue quite often when I play a first-person shooter like House of the Dead Overkill or even Wii Sports. The responsiveness is sharp, but the accuracy of my movements feels a little off. Scoring a head shot in a first-person shooter on the Wii is far more difficult to do than on my Xbox 360, for example. My performance feels hobbled by the Wii remote, aka Wiimote.

But 1-to-1 responses through the MotionPlus could change all that. I realize that the device won't improve older titles, so increasing accuracy in current games isn't really an option. But having real, life-like control seems like it will be a reality. I look forward to being able to score that head shot without much trouble. Having pinpoint accuracy would help me sink a big putt in Tiger Woods PGA Tour '10.

The Wii's market advantage--and biggest shortcoming--is its motion control. It's cool, it's fun, but it's not accurate. Nintendo has promised us that the MotionPlus will change all that.

Say what you will about the Wii. But with the help of the MotionPlus, I think that Nintendo will finally achieve its goal of creating a top-of-the-line motion-control experience.

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