Sony vs Nintendo in the motion sensitive arena

Kevin Kelly
K. Kelly|10.28.06

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Sony vs Nintendo in the motion sensitive arena

There's been an enormous amount of brouhaha about whether or not Sony added the motion sensitive feature to their controller after Nintendo announced the Wii, or if they had been planning it all along. Now Sony fanboys are claiming, via the YouTube video after the jump, that they had motion sensitive controllers back on the original PlayStation, so Nintendo must have copied the idea from Sony. Nobody seems to notice that it wasn't Sony who made the motion sensitive controller back then. Since it was pre-2000, then it's ancient history, in Net-time.

The only thing the video proves is that third-party manufacturers (like Pelican) made motion sensitive controllers, Sony had nothing to do with it. In fact, Pelican made motion sensitive controller paks for the N64, which also incorporated vibration as well, and this was back in what, 1998? What's really puzzling is that Sony isn't able to (or unable to, due to the Immersion lawsuit) make both the vibration and the motion sensitive technology work in their PS3 controllers. It's been seven years since Pelican packed this technology into a PS1 controller and both work. Seems like technologically they'd be able to make it work come November.

The real issue is that Nintendo isn't just adding motion to a controller as a novelty, it has created an entirely new way to play games that require motion. Once you've spent any time playing with the Wii, then you'll see how it changes gameplay on a fundamental level. It's not a tacked on feature to try and squeeze some more life out of an existing controller design, instead they opted to go for something unique and different. Only time will tell if people actually embrace the difference and make the Wii a success, or a failure.

Just don't expect to see motion sensitive controllers coming to the Xbox 360 anytime soon. Microsoft tried a motion sensitive controller, the Sidewinder Freestyle Pro for PCs, but it never took off. Bill Gates said in an interview with MTV News at E3, "It's tough because sometimes you move the controller, and you don't [mean] to fly into the ground. You just want to put the controller down. People aren't that good at totally standing still. Even pilots actually sit in a chair when they do their flying. So there's a lot to be learned about these controllers." Yeah Bill, lets try and have pilots stand up while they fly, I'm sure that would work out pretty well.

So yes, motion is a feature on the PS3, but it's a requirement on the Wii. Where it's an option on one system, you can't play games without it on the other. Nintendo had extremely primitive motion sensitive technology in their Power Glove back in 1989, and companies like Pelican have tried to innovate with motion sensitive controllers on several consoles. It just hasn't proven itself to be a mainstream technology yet, and Nintendo is crossing its nunchucks that it will.
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