克林克林 2011-08-03
Motion-Control Gaming: Why Is It So Popular & Is It Good For The Industry?

Why is motion control gaming so ubiquitous? Is motion control gaming good or bad for the industry? Sit back and relax as I give you my thoughts on why motion control gaming is popular and how it has changed the industry.

Crunching the Numbers

It’s hard to argue with the numbers and figures. Nintendo has dominated this generation’s console wars in terms of hardware sales. As of August 2011, VGChartz shows that the Wii has sold 87.2 million units worldwide.

A system completely built around motion control gaming. By comparison, the Xbox 360 has sold 55 million units and the PS3 has sold 51.6 million units worldwide. The financial success of the Wii was acclaimed as a boom for the video game industry despite the collapse of the economy in 2008. It was only a matter of time that the other two giants in the industry, Sony and Microsoft, would follow suit in the motion control gaming craze by introducing their own system add-ons with the Playstation Move and Xbox 360 Kinect. According to Eurogamer. Since the Playstation Move launched on September 17, 2010 in the Unites States it has gone to sell 8.8 million units as of June 2011,

The Kinect has sold 10 million units and with that 10 million Kinect games as stated in a press release that was sent out in March 2011. In fact, Guinness World Records officially named Kinect the fastest selling consumer electronics device. If this is true, roughly 1 in 5 Xbox 360 users own a Kinect and have purchased a game outside of the pre-packaged Kinect Adventures for their motion based hardware.

From the developer’s and publisher’s point of view, it’s obvious to see that motion control gaming is ubiquitous because both the hardware and software are selling well at retail stores. Based on some analysts’ predictions, the hardware could be selling better, but from an economist’s perspective you have to realize that the economy isn’t getting better for the consumer at a rate that it should be; meaning that people just don’t have the expendable cash to be buying luxuries like video game consoles.

“Mad” Marketing Skills

The marketing teams for Nintendo did it best by selling a concept: a video game console built around casual games the whole family could enjoy. Wii Sports came bundled with the Nintendo Wii when it launched in November of 2006. Each of the games in Wii Sports could be played by players from 3 to 103 years old. The news media across the nation broadcasted crowds huddling around Best Buys, Targets, Walmarts, and other electronic stores to purchase the brand new Nintendo console. The Wii became the hottest item of the 2006 holiday season. The Wii was selling more than a gaming console: it was an entire new experience. A figurative machine of the future that incorporated simple waggle motions that translated from your wrist to the character movement on your television. The Wii caught fire and was impossible to find until the middle of the next year. You saw the Wii being demonstrated in movies, on late night talk shows, at malls, in music videos…the Wii was everywhere and yet most people couldn’t get one inside their homes because of the lack of supply.

In the span of a year, the Wii entered millions of homes and people who had never touched a gaming console began to enjoy games like Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Wii Fit Plus. Nintendo was able to tap into brand-new markets that didn’t exist before the introduction of motion control gaming. Now seniors are playing Wii bowling and golf in their community rooms. Moms and kids are working out together with Wii Fit and racing each other with games like Mario Kart. The advent of motion control gaming brought families and friends together for a day of entertainment in front of their televisions. Even my girlfriend at the time, who hadn’t played a game since Dr. Mario on her original NES, wanted to come over all the time just so she could attempt to kick my ass at tennis and bowling. The simplicity of the controls drew in consumers to embrace gaming as a new platform of entertainment, despite the fact that video games had already been around for over 20 years.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

It only made sense that given Nintendo’s success that Microsoft and Sony would jump aboard the motion control train to cash in with their own iterations of motion control gaming hardware. Looking at the Kinect, there’s nothing simpler than waving your hand at the Kinect sensor to start a game. If you ever look at an Xbox 360 controller, it’s a daunting piece of hardware. There are 11 buttons on the game pad if you count the middle Xbox button, 2 joysticks, and a d-pad. Motion control gaming has helped to eliminate the barrier that was once there for non-gamers of the multi-button control scheme many regular games are conditioned to play with. No matter how you feel about motion control gaming, most gamers fall into one of two camps: they either like it or hate it, it’s tough to argue that motion control gaming has a large mass appeal for “casual” gamers. Unfortunately, with huge success came a flood of software titles which we now call shovelware. In fact, on average Wii titles are given lower review scores than its console competitors.

For every 1 good Wii title that has been released there have been about 100 titles that are worthless and will live the rest of their lives at the bottom of discount bins.

Still, motion control in gaming is not new to the game industry. Arcade games have always tried to incorporate movement into the video game experience; games like Dance Dance Revolution and Police 911 are good examples. The marriage between motion controls and gaming has been successful in the past. Every gamer in the 2000’s has gone to their local arcade or bowling alley and tried DDR once in their lifetime just to see what the hype was about.

“What does it all mean, Basil?”

Does motion control gaming benefit the industry as a whole? It depends what stance you take on what is beneficial for the industry. If you are like me and believe any kind of growth and overall acceptance of gaming in any shape and form is healthy, then motion control gaming is great because it brought droves of new gamers to the market who will probably pursue a lifelong passion of gaming. On the other hand, many gamers believe that motion control gaming is gimmicky and has degraded the user experience. There is an actual fear that motion control gaming will become so popular that it will overtake the market and every new system will be based off of motion control gaming. I can’t see this happening. It just feels too natural and comfortable for people to sit on their couches and hold a remote control. It would be a failure on all fronts to force gamers to solely be motion control gamers.

However, there will always now be a place for motion control gaming and casual users, but I don’t think it’ll completely change the face of the industry. We shouldn’t discount the possibilities of motion control gaming as it has its own place in the realm of gaming. Games like Child of Eden and Dance Central bring a unique gameplay experience that wouldn’t be possible without motion controls. In the future I can only hope developers can learn from those games and build games that would entice “hardcore” gamers to get off their couches and join in on the motion control craze. Motion control gaming is definitely different and we must all embrace it as it is here to stay.

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