While rumour and speculation is still rife that Microsoft will eventually join Sony in challenging Nintendo by incorporating motion-sensors into its own controllers, Xbox VP David Gosen yesterday warned against "gimmicky" devices which are disrespectful to new games players.
In both his Gamefest UK keynote and also an exclusive interview with Develop, the former Nintendo and I-play exec and VP of strategic marketing and Live, conceded that format-holders will continue to introduce new user interfaces off the back of the Wii and Guitar Hero, but was cautious about introducing too many ‘toy shop’ peripherals to the market.
He told attendees in his keynote that user interfaces were important to the industry, "whether it is cameras or motion sensitive controllers" and added "or, in the instance of Wii Fit, digital bathroom scales".
"What Nintendo have done with the Wii is truly fantastic – there is no question about it. But I think sometimes there is a thin line between gimmick and great gameplay," he told us after his talk.
"We’ve seen some research that says 60 per cent of people who bought a Wii Fit play it once and don’t play it again. So we have to get the balance right, because what we are doing is bringing new consumers into the market for the first time in their lives sometimes – and we have to treat them with respect.
"And at the end of the day that comes back down to creativity. We have to ensure that the peripheral strategy that anyone employs makes sense and delivers a truly game changing experience. Because if it’s just ‘okay’ it will end up in the cupboard under the stairs."
"New user interfaces are there and will continue to come – and that are good, but only if they enhance the gameplay experience. They are not good if they are gimmicks. There is a challenge for us to make sure that all new user interfaces are deep and are rewarding to the end user," he said.
When we asked how he thinks Microsoft’s own foray into peripheral gaming, the new Inis-developed karaoke game Lips which features microphones with motion-sensors, will compete with comparable experience SingStar, he said:
"If you look a what people don’t like about existing karaoke games it’s that you’ve got wired microphones which look like they’ve come out of a toy shop and a fairly restricted song base.
"When we designed Lips we looked at those two major barriers. We created the wireless mics, which look and feel like real microphones, have motion sensors so you have more opportunity to get fun out of it because you can use it as a percussion instrument and even light up. Then we added in the opportunity to sing along to your own music library, and have PDLC on top of that. We think that’s a compelling substantially differentiating singing proposition."