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Why Natal and PlayStation Motion Control are Doomed to Fail |

This year Sony and Microsoft plan on tackling Nintendo’s WiiMote with their own motion sensor devises. Microsoft’s Natal enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller. Sony’s still unnamed devise consists of a handheld wand that  will require  the help of the PlayStation Eye webcam to track the wand’s position, and inertial sensors to detect its motion.

Both companies are hoping these new peripherals will help them attract the casual market Nintendo has cornered this gen with the Wii. In my opinion, it’s a wasted effort. 

Lets look at the average Xbox user. Compare sales of titles like Halo, Gears of War, Call of Duty, and Borderlands to any other genre  found on the system and one might come to the conclusion that owners of Microsoft’s Xbox are  hardcore FPS/Action gaming  fans with  little to no interest in anything else.  The one genre  Natal may stand out is fighting games since Natal will offer full body control. Just be sure you have enough room for all those kicks and punches.

 Sony’s initial failed attempt with motion control for the PS3, the Sixaxis, didn’t impress that many developers. While Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune featured limited Sixaxis options, Naughty Dog dropped the option all together for the sequel. We all know what happened to Lair, a game that featured full Sixaxis support.  Game Republic’s FolkLore was  one of the few titles for the PS3 that featured a well adapted Sixaxis scheme for their game.  Some developers, like Metal Gear Solid mastermind Hideo Kojima, rejoiced when Sony finally added Rumble to their standard controller.

 Another thing holding them back is the fact that like any other peripheral there’s going to be an extra price  tag included on top of buying the system. Why pay more  for a PS Motion control, a PSEye, and/or a Natal when you can spend less than $200 on a Wii with a full library of titles for the system? As it stands now Resident Evil 5, Fable III and several other titles are set to receive or include some aspect of motion control support for the Natal and PSMotion.

I really don’t see the need for a motion control add on for  either Sony or Microsoft at this point. Both companies underestimated the market for it and missed the boat.  Sony could have made the motion control push with the PS2 and EyeToy years ago.  Early on developers may port Wii games to both systems to test the water. Seeing as how No More Heroes is currently being ported from the Wii to the PS3 and 360 this year with no sixaxis support, I don’t think developers have too much faith in motion control for HD systems.

My predictions are that both are destined to  fail due to lack of support by developers and lack of interest by gamers.  This gamer has no interest in motion control at all. If I did, I’d have a Wii.

Edit: Thanks to Nick for pointing out that Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 2 does infact offer Sixaxis support.

  • Nick

    Correction, I actually quite relied on the Sixaxis control in Uncharted 2, it makes throwing grenades a hell of a lot easier.

  • Luke

    Uncharted 2 supported Sixaxis?

  • Mike

    It comes down to whether or not the top tier developers make games for either device, and I don’t really see that happening.

    You can probably forget about cross platform games doing much with either device, it just wouldn’t be worth it for most third party developers. And I’m not really sure which of the better first party developers will be doing anything with it.

    Natal has always come off as some gimmick to capture the shovelware buying audience that already has a Wii. Those people will just keep buying junk on the Wii.

  • JimmyMagnum

    @Luke: yeah, go into control options I believe, there’s an option to use sixaxis for grenade aiming, only way I play actually

    in response to this topic, IMO, it’s all gimmicky and really aimed at making a quick buck. The Wii was able to sell as much as it did because of it’s advertised accessibility. Unfortunately, there is tons and tons of shovelware and few good games available to play. Since Sony and Microsoft never entered the market early when they had the best possible chance, both are most likely destined to fall flat on their face, especially with the higher price tag (and, as mentioned, the cost of the peripherals themselves).

    Not to mention the Eye has been out for a while now, and could potentially do the same things as Natal, but Sony never really pushed that tech and there are probably a ton of people who don’t even know the Eye exists. The Wand might just end up with the same kind of attention, after the first few months talking about it with one game, they will probably fade into memory (Eye of Judgment with the Eye for instance).

  • Didn’t realise there was a bit of sixaxis in U2.

    No wonder everyone online tosses those grenades so accuratly.

  • Thiey06

    Problem with the wand is rhe need for the eyetoy
    it is never going to be practical in the lounge…
    Too much assle for anyone

  • Luke

    Wow thanks for the tip, I came here to read the article about Natal and PS Eye and learned about Uncharted 2 and the it’s Sixaxis compatability 🙂

  • Horrible article. Basing your assumption on why Natal will fail on the fact that 360 gamers are hardcore just shows you don’t understand the potential of Natal.

    For instance, Half Life 2 controlled by Natal:

    The PS3 motion controller WILL probably fail, as someone above pointed out, requiring a wand and the eye toy are just too much or a hassle for any PS3 gamer to get excited about.

  • JimmyStewart

    I agree with the article for the most part. I think the Wii mostly tackled that motion controller fad and they’ve made quite a successful console based upon it. But it ultimately lacks the depth the other consoles have and almost everyone is aware of that. I didn’t buy my Wii to actually “game” on, I bought it to play some party games and mess around when we have friends over.

    And I think ArtiSiN has a point about Natal. I think the original article is correct as far as the PS3 wand is concerned. It is a novelty and if I didn’t have a Wii I might nab it for giggles but I have no plans to nab it now. Natal on the other hand I see has some potential. While I’m still completely unconvinced on the gaming applications, I feel that having the device it could be VERY useful for controlling the 360s menus and for doing non-gaming tasks like watching movies and browsing the marketplace. I know it seems like a small feature, but after falling in love with the PS3 remote (for it’s bluetooth) I can now see just how much difference a good remote makes. And if there’s a simple easy way for me to interface with the 360 doing basic tasks I’m sold… the idea of not even needing a remote at all is very intriguing to me. Add to that the room microphone and facial recognition stuff and I think it’s got a few more features that could change the way I use the console. I don’t really see how the PS3 wand could do any of these things for me. At best I’d be back with a remote in my hand, at which point I’d rather just use the bluetooth remote.

    I’d go as far as to say that the gaming prospects for Natal have potential depending on what developers could do with it, but from what they’ve shown so far and past developers adventures into controller alternatives it doesn’t give me much hope. I see it working at best like the “sixaxis” support in PS3 games which have always felt gimmicky and tacked on to me, most of the time I wish I could turn them off and get back to the real game. I don’t see any reason to expect much difference from Natal.

  • JimmyStewart


    About the Eye being “potentially” able to do what Natal could do, I’d have to disagree. Most importantly, it’s lacking the multiple camera approach. Without that you’re left with a USB webcam… and if you’ll notice the 360 has the “Vision Camera” already. Natal is definitely not the PS Eye or the Vision Camera, otherwise you can bet that MS would’ve just rolled it into a firmware update. I’m guessing that the limitations of the Eye Toy/Vision Cams are why Sony is going the wand route and why MS is pitching the Vision for Natal.

  • Joe

    It will certainly be interesting to see what kind of support MS and Sony get for their new peripherals both from developers and gamers.

    I tend to agree with the article that both PS3 and 360 have a very hardcore crowd that may not be interested in motion control at all and I’m not sure the new expanded casual crowd will be willing to buy new hardware for hardcore consoles.

    I think both manufacturers have an uphill battle to eat into the Wii’s market and it does make me laugh a bit when I think back to when both were labelling the Wii as a gimmick that wouldn’t last yet now are both scrambling as quickly as possible to get in on the action.

    Time will tell…

  • sam sam

    i love my Wii but i think you hit the nail on the head. its too late and it wont be packed in to the system.there may be a few novel games that are fun but i need to see some crazy improveent over the wii to get into motion control for these. bte that half life video looks terrible. who would want to play a game like that?

  • JimmyMagnum

    i probably wont get either of them, but I think the PS3 has more potential because it doesn’t fully rely on body movements and has a controller interface to go along with it

  • Darrin

    The Wii has delivered some nice children-friendly mini-game collections (and some decent rail shooters) but they really haven’t gone much beyond that.

    The best games like Mario Galaxy are mainly controlled by buttons and an analog stick.

    I’m still eager to see what devs can do with it, but I’m definitely a skeptic.

    Lair, btw, had great flight controls identical to Flower, but the rest of the game was bad. the enemies, missions, writing, action mechanics were all terrible.

  • derrickgott007

    There was already a “NATAL” before for fighting games, it FAILED horribly.. Remember SEGA’s ACTIVATOR? JUNK…Plus the video of the guy playing Half Life looks like your wrist would get tired flicking to go forward all the time. I think the PS Motion Controller will do well. Just imagine Obilvion with Motion Controller sword firghts…. I already have the PS Eye so It’ll be cheaper for me!..

  • Eddie

    Early reports have stated that the “Gem” is the most accurate by far…even above and beyond the wiimote. Since both are similar technologies, porting a game from one motion device to another will be quite easy. The problem is with Natal. It is a completely different technology and would require a rebuild from the ground up.

    So multiplatform motion games will play a large role in the sales.

    Natal will be neat for a gui controller….as for a gaming device it will be uninteresting.

    With that said…I can’t stand motion in general. As long as motion games are motion games and leave my main franchises alone…I’ll be happy.

  • JimmyStewart

    “Natal will be neat for a gui controller….as for a gaming device it will be uninteresting.”

    First part is exactly right. The idea of not needing to find the remote to pause a movie is something see getting me to go back to the 360 for everything but Blu-Rays again.

    The second part really remains to be seen. I agree it’s probably not going to replace a standard control pad, but lets not make up our minds before we see finished products. So far a lot of the early hands on has changed a lot of minds. Heck, Natal was one of Time Magazine’s inventions of the year. It is something that could either fail miserable or bring some more innovation to the gaming world. Also, gaming on Natal won’t require a rebuild on from the ground up. They had a demonstration on some late night talk show back around E3 where they demoed Burnout Paradise using Natal. It was FAR from perfect, but it clearly showcased how an existing control scheme could be translated to work with Natal.

    The PS3 wand thing (Gem?) on the other hand is much more inline with the Wiimote. After however many years of success the Wii has seen we’ve really yet to see them make any more progress with the technology in terms of gaming. Wii Sports is fun, but every game is just another iteration on that. The PS3 stands to inherit this same problem… that’s where we’ll see a “uninteresting” device. It might mean a few sloppy Wii ports from third parties show up, but most if not all the good games come from Nintento themselves.

    I think the biggest problem with all these comparisons is that Gem is a VERY easy concept to grasp. Everyone is familiar with the Wii and how it works. Gem has the potential to do basically the same sort of gimmick. Another wand to waggle at your TV. The problem is that Natal has so much potential and we’ve yet to see how that will take shape. It obvious from these comments that the possibility of this new device is really hard to get your head around. Maybe it’s just the tech enthusiast in me, but this device has so much stuff that’s never been attempted before in a console… it’s not just about being a “motion controller”. There’s stuff like the facial recognition and voice recognition. Already I envision the idea of turning on my console and automatically seeing my profile sign in, if my wife is with me she’ll be signed in too. That’s a really cool idea and how these features could be used in games remains to be seen. Plus seeing how a game like Burnout can easily be controlled, it’s apparent this device could not only work with Natal specific games but potentially any game in the library. There’s a lot about the device that’s unknown, but the potential is there. The PS3 wand on the other hand, it seems to have little to offer in comparison. It can’t really be tacked onto older games (not sure how Burnout would respond to waving a wand about), it’s not adding any real new innovation to the field, and they lack the Nintendo first party titles that really makes the Wii shine. So we’re left with another waggle wand. If I needed another one of those, I’d probably stick to the Wii… and I stopped turning that thing on over a year ago. The wand gives me nothing to be excited for yet, it’s just another me too device. Natal however has my interest because if it works as it’s been demonstrated there’s a lot of potential there for a lot of different things.

  • caldape95

    Yes I bought the PS3 to play hardcore games. I would rather buy the Wii with more games and already developed console.

  • Jb978684

    The only reason gamers or rather the niche market for PS3/360 isn’t interested is due to the fact motion controls have yet to be implemented successfully into a hardcore title. Whoever does it first will get a taste of the success Nintendo has been enjoying with the Wii. The Wii and DS are the fastest selling systems of all-time. To say gamers aren’t interested in a key selling point of the Wii platform is ridiculous. You’re definition of gamer is incorrect.

  • DaveL

    As a person who tried the GEM technology, I’m a little more enthusiast about it. It *does* offer a level of control never before obtainable on Wii ( even with motion plus ). It is very precise AND easy to use. I can say with confidence that you will see a lot of Wii game get ported and enhanced to the PS3, if the buzz around GEM is strong enough.

  • Johnno

    I disagree. SIXAXIS for all it’s worth has seen some shoddy use. But I’ve enjoyed some sections in Heavenly Sword, and Killzone 2 made excellent use of it, and let’s not forget Flower! That game can ONLY be experienced with the SIXAXIS!!! And it’s awesome!!! So SIXAXIS, while not widespread has its uses! And Sony is better off having the tech in its controller than without it.

    Finally at the very least both Microsoft and Sony’s controllers will probably not do as hotly as they’d like beyond the initial launch day. And that’s the negative scenario. But given that both consoles are as affordable as the Wii, casual gamers who like motion controls may want a system that has better graphics and processing. PS3 certainly has the edge in this race as it’s the console that will most appeal to regular consumers once thy learn about it. It offer blu-ray which is the new standard for HD movies and inevitably 3-D movies. And it’s motion controls are built around the same concept as the Wiis, which are proven to work and something people will immediatedly take note of. And it also offers similar functionality as Project Natal with the Eye, so as far as the masses will be concerned it offers the best of both worlds.

    In due time, both Natal and the Gem’N’Eye controllers will be bundled with the system at affordable prices and given the longevity that this console generation is going to have of about 10 years, there’s plenty of time for them to grow their userbases and no doubt be a standard by the time the next systems roll out.

    It’s going to be a long curve until Natal and Gem’N’Eye grow, but the same equally goes for Wii Motion+ which is Nintendo’s attempt to keep up and I’m sure will also be built into the controllers of future Wii system refreshes.

  • Adam FIsher

    doomed to fail? wii’s games are terrible anyone could make motion control games in 6 months 100 times better then anything on wii not made by nintendo. the e3 demonstration of the ps3 was already more fun then the entire wii library so far (aside from non wii games mario, zelda, and smash bros. ) I think motion plus was a joke, it uncalibrated in the games too often and litterally showed more how much the tech didnt work and how badly we need sony to step in and show nintendo what happens when u throw money at a good idea.

  • ztnepres

    I would disagree completely from the article. Until Wii releases WiiHD as rumored and speculated by experts, ps3 and the Wand(some say its the gem but until official, ill say wand) can take charge. I have seen the leaked natal video and i can say its doomed to fail as feedback isnt 100%. if theres any chance a person tries to do an action and it doesnt register, it would ruin the experience. You can see that in the video as the person doesn’t interact with the sthings on the table fluidly. imagine u had to pick up a new gun to save urself but died trying to register ur action. as for the ps3, it is aiming for hardcore gamers and has better 1 to 1 tracking. yes, if they adverstise the same wii gimmick, it would not work. plus, wii doesnt have the graphics and online gameplay hardcore gamers like. hardcore games interested in motion controllers but dislike the wii, will choose the wand over natal bcuz its more practical. the wii simply needs to reboot a new console to keep users on the wii over the wand. but until the wiihd is official, the ps3 wand can make a slight impact. once u see more games like sonic final fantasy and other characters japan is familiar with, sony can have success with it in japan. as for the us, idk cus it seems fps is the biggest fad. idk if motioncontrol can ever be used with fps that well. we have to see how resident evil does.

  • JimmyMagnum

    Johnno: Gem’N’Eye

    I think you might be on to something there haha. IF the names are correct, that could be the name of the peripheral bundle haha

  • Yeah. Gem’N’Eye sounds like a winner. Namewise anyway.

  • David Macphail

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Natal fails. Assuming the system is lag- free by the time of release there’s still the end result of people breaking bones while attempting to do flying – jumping – spinning kicks in Dead Or Alive.

    Also, what happens when you’re playing Mortal Kombat? How are you supposed to get Sub – Zero to shoot ice from his hands? Do they want you to get some ice from your freezer and start throwing it around the room? LOL…..i really don’t know what Microsoft were thinking.

    Sony’s Wand controller could take off in a big way, though. They’re going with a design similar to that of the Wiimote in hopes of swaying some of the Wii’s main audience. Which could see them benefit greatly.

  • name

    i really do not want either motion controllers, there the only reason i still have not bought a wii.
    by the time i get home at 10 PM after a 9 hour shift the last thing i want to do is stand up and wave my arms around or whatever else.
    plus its kinda embarrassing when you have friends or family over, or people walking by your window and they see you like that.
    i wonder how many mental hospitals have received commission calls because of that.
    i really could not care less about sony or M$ motion controls as long as they dont make games forcing you to use those, if they do than than i would be pissed.
    thats what i hate about the industry these days, everything is copy everyone theres no originality.
    i mean i cant remember the last feature that was added to a console that was not a rip off of a previous feature.
    how about some originality guys?
    just because the wii has motion controls does not mean the ps3 and 360 need them.
    just because the 360 has cross game chat does not mean the ps3 needs it.
    just because the wii and ps3 have a web browser does not mean the 360 needs one…… o wait.

  • John

    Sorry but the web browser on the ps3 sucks and I wouldn’t ever choose it over my computer, so I don’t see how that is an advantage.

    I think some of the responses on here in regards to the natal and the wand are purely speculation at this point. You can tell that the majority of the posters prefer the ps3 over the 360 so of course they are gonna think it’s idea sounds better.

    I have played the wii and the motion control aspect of it sucks. The only people I know that actually like the wii are casual gamers. It doesn’t recognize your movements and just picks up little flicks of the remote. The movement just makes game more annoying to play and harder to control.

    I reserve judgment until more is known, and I hate the idea of motion control, but the Microsoft’s idea sounds a little more appealing at this point. The subzero post was just retarded…

    When you think about it less from a hardcore and more from a casual aspect people are going to be drawn to the ideal of a system recognizing your movements without using a controller. Motion control is designed to win back casual gamers away from nintendo more than it is for hardcore gamers anyway…

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