Thursday, August 26, 2010

Questioning these New Motion Control Schemes

You know, I've really been questioning the value of motion controlled games for a while now, but the issue came to a head for me after I started playing a game on the Wii that really didn't need to have motion controls to begin with, a game which was released outside of North America on other consoles without those controls.

Even though I am not wholly a current gen player, I must admit that my heart sank when it both Sony and Microsoft announced and demonstrated their own motion-based gaming schemes.

I mean, I get why they did it. The Wii is a hugely popular console, and Sony and Microsoft want a piece of that action, but it is an incredibly short-sighted move.

I liken this strategy to another set of decisions in another related industry. I am of course talking about the huge push by the Hollywood studios to make everything 3D.

I mean, 3D is great if from the moment the project started, that was how the film was being developed. But if the project was processed into 3D after principle photography had already taken place, well, the results are usually and predictably awful. Wii Sports/Resort are fun because they were designed for that control scheme from the ground up. There are other games which have been ported over to the Wii from the PS3/360 which are questionable at best because motion control has been laid upon them.

I've heard complaints from some of my peers that because of these new motion control schemes, developers who were working on DLC and new titles are now being told to develop versions of their existing games to work with these new control schemes, so instead of getting new content, the market is going to be loaded with duplicate works, which is also going to take shelf space away from new titles as well. So it is a mistake from that standpoint as well.

And of course, the other thing that people tend to overlook when discussing this matter is the quality of titles that actually come out on the Wii. Aside from the first party stuff Nintendo releases and a few titles from some of the other major publishing companies, the games to put it bluntly, suck. They are the very definition of shovelware.

People talk about E.T. being the thing that killed the Atari and led to the Great Video Game Crash, but that was only one of the factors. The other was the flood of low-cost, low quality games that glutted the market, something which the Wii has an abundance of.

You don't think that those same developers who are currently blighting the Wii with their wares aren't going to now start releasing those same substandard titles on these new platforms. And both Sony and Microsoft, who have invested heavily in this folly, are likely going to support these titles, despite the fact that they denigrate their system and in the long term, will end up costing their respective companies money in lost sales.

They want to appeal to casual gamers, but if someone's first few experiences with modern gaming are terrible, do you think they really going to want to stick around. And because consoles are being sold as a loss leader, they need people to buy first party games to make a profit.

Yes, they have higher standards than Nintendo these days, but if the choice is between having a few quality titles which use motion controls and a decent amount of mostly terrible choices, they will both likely choose the latter and let a few games through that they likely wouldn't let by if they were being designed with a more traditional control scheme in mind.

I think the most likely scenario is going to be that motion control on both the 360 and PS3 are going to be short lived fads, and in the end, there are going to be a lot of unhappy gamers out there who will feel suckered into buying the necessary equipment to play an exclusive, but found little use for it afterward, because Nintendo has this particular niche sewn up pretty tight.

I just think this is a strategy which will end in abject failure for Microsoft and Sony. But I guess I will have to watch the sales numbers when they come in starting next month for Sony and later in the year for Microsoft.


SamuraiFrog said...

I think this is a mistake for Sony and Microsoft, too. Over on Tumblr, where there are a lot of gamers, the sentiment I most often see is "Who cares about motion control anymore?" It's not smart to go with it now. I think a lot of the success of the Wii--and I love my Wii--has a lot less to do with motion control and a lot more to do with games specific to Nintendo (I love Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, etc), and the fact that it costs so much less than a PS3. Anyone who was brought in by the motion control on something like Wii Sports or Wii Fit already HAS a Wii, so why bother motion controlling the other consoles? I really don't see that doing anything for Sony or Microsoft.

MC said...

It costs so much less to develop for the Wii too, so it is a little more inviting to new companies.

My question to you is, do motion controls add anything really to Twilight Princess, as I know that is a port from the Gamecube and I am wondering if there is anything substantially new with this control scheme so I can perhaps compare that to what people are going to say when something like Heavy Rain comes out in a motion controlled version.

SamuraiFrog said...

I enjoy it with the motion control (swinging the sword, etc.) but I never played it for GameCube, so I can't say if it really adds or not. It does take full advantage of the motion capture options, and makes the experience a little more visceral, since you're a tiny bit more active.

My understanding was that they had to rebuild parts of the game to get it on the Wii (reversing the image, for example, and making Link right-handed instead of left). I like how integrated it is into the motion control; I enjoy it. It doesn't feel like a ported game, to be honest.

Lee Sargent said...

I want to sit and play a game using a controller, if I wanted to actually get up and swing a tennis racquet I'd go out and... actually I just don't want to get up let's leave it at that.

I played The Force Unleashed on the Wii and found the whole thing tedious after a couple of minutes. It may have been that the swinging action* didn't replicate on screen or that after swinging for hours** my arms got bloody tired.

Motion control is not why I play on the Wii, it's for the games (as SamuraiFrog said already). I will not be getting the Sony glowball.

* that should get you some interesting hits off of Google
** yup, that nails it***
*** I don't know what's wrong with me

MC said...

SF: Sometimes it just seems that on these games the motion control feels gimmicky. The fact that LoZ games are made by Nintendo themselves probably ensures that the controls are far better integrated into the whole experience than they might otherwise be.

Lee: See, I am so weird about this that even Sixaxis sounds a little gimmicky to me. I want to press buttons and arrows to do things too. There is a particular game that has been released on the PS2 and Wii that I want... it is cheaper and likely looks better on the Wii, but I am still holding out for the PS2 version which is hard to get these days because I am comfortable with the control scheme it likely has.

Lee Sargent said...

New Super Mario Bros actually has the best use of the Wii controller that I've encountered to date.

It's primarily just the controller as a standard controller with actions that can be performed by shaking the controller - this is really intuitive and in my opinion makes the best use of this technology. It's simply like adding another button except I shake it to activate it.

But I'm with you, I want to press buttons and push joy sticks.