EGM: Do you wish Microsoft had come up with the idea for the Nintendo Revolution controller?
Bill Gates: Uh… no. [Laughs]
Motion controllers weren’t the future, at least according to Microsoft and Sony. When Nintendo revealed the Revolution controller at the Tokyo Game Show back in 2005, it stole the show. The competition didn’t really know what to think. Microsoft decided to wait and see how motion controls would catch on, while Sony likely began planning the SIXAXIS controller. Motion control hadn’t really been thought of, at least not until the Revolution controller had finally made an appearance.
Why wasn’t the Revolution controller revealed at E3 2005? Because Nintendo was afraid that someone would steal it. Nintendo has traditionally kept its cards close to its chest, and for good reason. It’s quite common for Nintendo’s tech to end up slightly modified on different platforms, and motion controls were no different.
At E3 2006, Sony shocked no one in announcing their SIXAXIS controller and its “six degrees of freedom.” Coming just months after Nintendo’s Revolution controller reveal, no one was fooled. In fact Sony even tried to claim that it was winning an Emmy for innovation in a controller. How could they win one for innovation when they had simply copied Nintendo? Well it was a lie of course. Sony was getting an Emmy for its analogue controller, nothing else. Only one game at E3 was shown with motion control, Warhawk, and its own developers said they hadn’t gotten their hands on working SIXAXIS controllers until a few weeks before E3.
BIZ: Speaking of Sony, I wanted to know what your reaction was to their media briefing, especially their expensive price and the fact that they now announced motion sensing for the PS3 controller.
Satoru Iwata: As for the latter part of the question, actually we were anticipating that Sony would make that kind of announcement, so I had to make a kind of wry smile at the time.
Of course, Wii would go on to exceed all sales expectations, and was nearly impossible to find on store shelves years after release. If that didn’t prove that motion control was catching on, what would? It was probably very early in Wii’s life cycle that the competition seriously started plans to make motion controllers. Soon, the opinions of Sony and Microsoft on motion control began to change, and it was now undoubtedly the wave of the future.
Phil Spencer: Much like with multiplayer, I think it will become the norm. If you are a racing game without multiplayer the game just didn’t sell. We think that motion control, we think voice recognition, should become a part of gaming as well.
So motion controls wouldn’t have become mainstream if it wasn’t for Wii, but at least we can commend Microsoft for not blatantly copying the Wii remote, unlike Sony. Kinect was an original idea while Move was nothing but taking Wii’s motion control and applying it to the PS3. But Nintendo had come to expect this from Sony, as the comments from Iwata indicated.
David Yarnton: I don’t know what [Sony’s] decision making process is but I think if you look back, any innovation that has come in gameplay has come from us.
Sony has continued to copy Nintendo, and it will likely continue in the future. Who knows what Nintendo’s next innovation will be, but odds are that Sony will be paying close attention and taking notes.