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Thursday, June 4, 2009

(E3) Why Nintendo's Conference Was Good

I'm surprised by the reaction of gaming journalists to the three major E3 conferences.  Between Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, most say that Nintendo's presentation was the weakest.  This strikes me as odd.  Nintendo is in an entirely different position than the other two companies, so their conference was different as well.

Microsoft and Sony are still fighting to get people to buy their equipment.  For instance, Microsoft has now announced that they're planning a ten-year console cycle, the same as Sony.  Why would they do this?  It's because they want developers to know that this new tech that they're demoing will be around for a while so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE start developing for it.  They're letting consumers know that they won't have to replace their systems so soon so BUY OURS PLEASE.

Nintendo doesn't have to fight for gaming space anymore.  They have their base of fifty million systems that are out in the wild.  They now have to get people to buy more games for the Wii.  That was the focus of their presentation, and they handled it well.  They simply had a different objective than the other companies.

People are pointing to the new motion controls on other systems as Nintendo's undoing.  Some now sneer at Nintendo's MotionPlus, saying that Nintendo now has the most expensive and least elegant motion solution.  That's not really the case.  Nintendo has already sold those Wiis.  They only need to convince people to drop $50 for two MotionPluses.  Microsoft and Sony have to convince people to buy the whole system yet, and we still don't know how much Natal or Sony's motion controls will cost.

Besides, who do motion controls appeal the most to?  Hardcore gamers?  Listen to them complain every time the Wii makes them move.  The people who are most enamored with motion controls are the casual gamers.  They're the ones who want to pretend that they're really swinging a tennis racket or rolling a bowling ball.  Here's the dirty little secret:  They've done it already.  ON THE WII.

Now, I'm not knocking any of the new motion solutions.  The Natal tech is amazing, and Sony's controls work better than Nintendo's.  They would be fantastic if and only if they were first to market.  As it is, Nintendo beat them to it, so they didn't have to push hardware revisions at E3 or new tech.  They just have to convince those that have their console to buy more things with the console.  They handled that objective admirably.