Editorials and Features
Article by: MrCHUPON
Rant: Supriise Motion Plus [Written 2008-07-24]
Last week on my Gamespot page, I blogged briefly (or not-so-briefly, depending on how long a two-paragraph comment seems to you) about how Wii Motion Plus, a technology I personally find great, needs to be standardized and handled correctly lest it simply become wasted potential. Then I gave them credit for at least bundling it in with Wii Sports Resort, thereby automatically putting it in the hands of several consumers, instead of just settling with hanging blisterpacks of the thing up on store shelves for people to buy randomly. It wasn't ideal, but at least by bundling it in with something, this takes it one step closer to either (a) bundling the thing into systems or (b) incorporating the tech into future Wii remotes.
Turns out, it might not matter much if you want to see it in your favorite third party's games. They're pretty pissed, it seems, and I can completely understand why: Nintendo kept this thing mum from them.
Excuse me, for a second, while I blow my second and third gaskets.
All right. Now that I've calmed down, I can understand a few things:
1) Nintendo doesn't "have to" do anything, least of all make its third party publishers happy. People are buying Wiis and Nintendo DSes in droves. Wii Fit is already hard to find. Wii Play is still friggin' in the top ten in NPD sales every. Single. Month. Most of us aren't Nintendo's market at this point -- the people who buy Wii Play, Wii Fit, and other FIRST PARTY products are. (Well, there's that little thing about Guitar Hero III... but I digress.)
2) Nintendo is making money off of item (1) hand over fist. Wiis sell at a profit as opposed to a loss. If all Nintendo did was sell a Wii and a copy of Wii Play, without selling any other titles, third party or otherwise, it'd still be making some semblance of money (though of course that's not the ideal situation).
3) Also off of item (1), we can derive that people will buy Wii Sports Resort any-friggin-way. If Nintendo never so much as got a third party developer involved in its business, the mainstream market would still likely have its hands on Wii Motion Plus attachments everywhere.
Ok. Now, take items (1), (2) and (3). Ball them up in your fist and -- are you watching? repeat after me! -- throw that shit out the window.
I'm betting that enough of you Wii owners are like me in that you want good third party offerings on your Wii. Think about something like The Force Unleashed with Wii Motion Plus, for instance. Think about another game like Zak and Wiki, now MORE accurate and immersive than ever before. How about a baseball game that tracks the height and rotation of your swing?
But now, we have to rely on third parties to not be angry to the point where they decide not to develop for the thing. Look at the quote from the ArsTechnica blog I linked to:
"We asked several third-party Wii developers about the Wii Motion Plus, and the general feeling was one of annoyance and betrayal. None of them said they had any advance notice about the peripheral, and we were told that they were as surprised as everyone else when Nintendo revealed its existence on stage," GameInformer is reporting. "That lack of prior notice means that, aside from Nintendo's own roster of games, users won't likely see any support for the device for at least six to nine months."
Now, perhaps the thing isn't coming out for six to nine months anyway -- Wii Sports Resort, with which Wii Motion Plus is debuting, comes out in Spring 2009. I'm not so worried about the time frame quoted as I am in the mindset of the third parties who feel annoyed and betrayed. Nintendo is in a much better place than Sega was during the Saturn launch, but nevertheless it smells very much like that situation. Remember that day? When Sega surprise-announced the availability of the Saturn had been pushed forward to the day of that very same announcement? "Hey guess what! You get this early!" But in doing so it only had a short list of retailers, and those who were left out were pissed.
This feels kinda like that. Oh hey -- we're working on this thing that, you know, you could have used for The Force Unleashed or at least made plans to, but yeah we didn't think you needed to know until now. What's that? You're almost done with the game and it's coming out in the fall and had you had advance notice you might have held off and put in some Wii Motion Plus action in there? Oh that's okay; don't worry about it. We'll still be selling tons of Wii Play this holiday season. What'd you say? That doesn't help you at all? That's fine -- we don't really care anyway.
I admit to making mountains out of molehills when problems like this arise. But looking at it from the developer's perspective, this is like a slap to the face. It feels disrespectful. Doing the right thing could only have helped Nintendo's success even more. Furthermore, it would have made ME happy in knowing that the company responsible for some of my favorite software decided to do the right thing and not succumb to its own arrogance (refer to Penny Arcade comic again). Maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe in the end, third parties -- despite their anger -- will see Wii Sports Resort sell and realize that they have to hurry up and do something. Though, really, wouldn't it be nice if Nintendo had given them some preliminary dev kits by now? They wouldn't have to "hurry", leading to better games, and sooner, instead of either getting a rushed piece of crap carnival minigame collection not far after Spring 2009 or having to wait until 2010 to see what -- say -- Ubisoft could do with the thing.
I'm going back to my trailer.
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