The Rise and Decline of Motion Gaming
Motion gaming lingered on the fringes for a while, suddenly caught on like wildfire, and slowly sputtered back to irrelevance. Let's recall how the process went.
Motion gaming refers to the kind of gaming where the on-screen action corresponds to the players' broad movements, gestures, voice commands or a mix thereof. Some implementations require specialized controllers, others forego controllers altogether.
The first motion gaming controller was Datasoft's "Le Stick" for the Commodore 64. The motion recognition device was sadly, way ahead of its time. This, and a complete lack of compatible games doomed the 'Stick.
Since then, devices like the Sega Activator (Sega Genesis), the infamous NES Power Glove (popularised by "The Wizard") and the EyeToy (PS2) have tried to make motion gaming work, and failed every time.
Out of nowhere, Nintendo tore the script apart with the Wii in late 2006. It was underpowered compared to its contemporary consoles (Xbox 360 and PS3), and Nintendo had previously failed to make motion gaming work with the Power Glove and the Power Pad. Despite these, the motion tracking Wii remote (aka Wiimote) controller and a wide selection of family-friendly games that utilised it helped the Wii cause; making it the best-selling game console of its generation.
Microsoft found success with a different approach. The Kinect add-on for the Xbox 360 was a camera that tracked the gamers' movements and interpreted that. It quickly became a party-favourite and helped Microsoft cover up lost ground.
Sony tried to grab a piece of the motion-gaming pie with the PlayStation Move. It combined an updated version of the above-mentioned EyeToy camera and a motion-tracking controller. It made no waves in the market, a sign of things to come.
In the next, which is the current, generation, motion control was one of the first boxes to be checked. Sony's PS4 controller implemented motion sensing, Microsoft shipped Kinects with every Xbox One, and Nintendo's Wii U was based around the touch and motion controlled controller. But the interest has evidently fallen.
Wii U's overly complicated controller doomed the console, despite a very early launch. Xbox One's Kinect device faced controversy for spying suspicions and "Always on" requirements. The PS4's motion sensing is not a widely used feature, at least yet.
The fad is over, and the companies see it. Nintendo has already started working on the Wii U's successor, Microsoft is shipping Xbox Ones without Kinect, and Sony is laughing all the way to the bank.
So, what exactly was behind the declining interest motion gaming? A few factors come to mind.
* There not being enough material to hold people's interest, once the novelty wears thin.
* Lack of precise input which alienated serious gamers.
* The traditional gaming formula of sitting on a couch, controller in hand being more appealing to most gamers than having to move around all the time.
* Companies targeting casual gamers at the cost of hardcore gamers, the most significant buyers of consoles.
* Not enough games to utilise the technology properly.
With the craze over, motion gaming has found its true home: casual smartphone games.
Novo Manzoor is an athlete. He surfs the web all day. You can reach him at: [email protected]