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DAILY MANIFESTO

Motion Controls Fail to Extend Console Lifecycle

Posted on Thursday, January 5 @ 00:00:07 Eastern by


It was a dark and dreary E3 eve. Not a creature was stirring, except for some idiots dressed in white ponchos. Like a flash mob of nonsense, Microsoft held its Project Natal extravaganza, and told tales of mystery and bewilderment. Gaming without a controller? It’s as blasphemous as it is interesting. And the promise of keeping the Xbox 360 alive and kicking a few more years was exactly what gamers wanted to hear.

Mere hours later, Sony gave PlayStation Move its official name and showed their hand in this motion-controller war that was brewing. Again, keeping that expensive PS3 alive and kicking for a few more years was in the best interest of gamers everywhere.

Both seemed promising. Both seemed to offer exciting new ways to play, and in a way they still do. But unfortunately, neither peripheral have done anything so innovative, so exciting, that they warrant a purchase. Neither one makes one console more appealing than the other.

Kinect, as Project Natal ended up being officially named, has sold like crazy (I avoid the hotcake reference, because, well, who buys hotcakes?) here in the United States. It’s helped elevate the Xbox 360 to the top-selling console month over month for over a year now. Kinect has brought the system once geared toward the “core” gamer to the casual crowd that was originally lured to gaming by the Nintendo Wii.

But just like the Nintendo Wii, these motion-controllers offer little in the way of worthy content, and have all become a dumping ground for shovelware. I don’t see a Carnival-themed mini-game smorgasbord as being something that makes me want to spend my money.

Kinect is indeed the better of them, and removing the controller removes a barrier for people who may be intimidated by buttons, pads, sticks and triggers. The PlayStation Move is the Nintendo Wii-mote all over again, with much more precision. It had serious potential, and developers were already creating similar games on the Wii. Sony really blew it there. They had something. They could have picked up where the Wii left off, but instead, Move-support, as they call it, was tacked onto AAA games. AAA games that are much better off being played with a standard Dualshock 3 controller. Everything else sans the launch pack-in Sports Champions has been a resounding disappointment.

Sony was unable to market the device to the proper crowds. Is it for casuals? Yes. But it also does Killzone 3. Casuals don’t care about that. Core gamers don’t, either, though.

It’s only each motion peripheral’s second year on the market, but there really isn’t anything more promising in the pipeline than what is already on the market.  Both devices were created with the goal of extending the lifecycle of current gen consoles, but in the end, have only made it even more obvious that something completely new is needed, and no motion-controlled game is going to save these dying consoles from their eventual (read: soon) demise.
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