According to an MTV source, Microsoft is not only considering a Wii-remote like accessory for the Xbox 360, it’s getting ready to launch it by the end of this year.
The project has reportedly been in planning since last summer, and legendary developer Rare has been given the responsibility of creating a unified interface and design of the controller.
Rare you may remember for famously abandoning the good ship Ninty so it could sit on its arse for a few years doing nothing while Microsoft wondered what to do with it. It came out of hiding to underwhelm us with Perfect Dark Zero and then launch the far more impressive Viva Pinata, which no one seemed to be interested in. Along with designing and building an Xboxaxis or whatever it is supposed to be called, it is officially at work on Banjo Kazooie 3 right now.
Microsoft has so far been the only current-gen console manufacturer not to offer any kind of motion sensing controller device. The Wii-remote has been given much of the credit for Nintendo’s current success and it excels at making its games incredibly intuitive to pick up and play. With Microsoft forcing its Xbox 360 prices ever downward and clearly gunning for Nintendo’s massive market space, you can see why it might think a motion sensing controller would help.
However, although Nintendo’s first party games have been mostly superb and incredibly innovative in their use of the Wii remote, it is fair to say that the majority of other third-party games have been shite and still struggle to see past the gimmicky nature of the controller.
Although Microsoft may well be eager to get a piece of Nintendo’s casual pie, it is already at a time disadvantage and will still suffer the same difficulties in coaxing truly exciting games out of developers. In the end, Microsoft’s only great advantage over the Wii from a casual perspective is the graphical power. The strength of its online service and powerful presence in the ‘hardcore’ market won’t mean as much in this fight.
On the other hand, in the previous generation (which is still far from dead by the way), the PS2’s shift to more ‘casual’ orientated games with the likes of SingStar and Buzz! has been extremely effective at extending the life of the console. It could be that Microsoft is preparing itself for the inevitable winding down of the Xbox 360 and readying a more concerted focus on casual players.