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Opinion Game Dev Phil Spencer Says Xbox Could Never Have Designed A Console Like The Nintendo Wii

Soodanim

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Whatever disruption the Wii caused didn't really last that long and I would disagree about how it shaped the consoles we have today. Motion controls are not the main focus of any of the three and Xbox has no motion controls at all now.

EDIT

Main focus being the primary way to control in a game.
Sony
  • Develops Move in response to Wii, tries to get in on that Wiimote money.
  • Incorporates the light bar into the DualShock 4 for Move combatibility
  • Incorporates all of that into VR
    • Channeled the leftovers from Wii chasing into its own developments
Microsoft
  • Develops Kinect in response to the Wii, tries to get in on that Wiimote money
  • Tries to go one further and bundle it in the Xbox One
  • Doesn't work out, Kinect is never heard from again
  • Xbox Series X doesn't mess around with gimmicks, the focus is on what it knows
    • Gamepass, install base/backwards compatibility
    • Xbox Series S|X is for traditional games, not bowling and Project Milo
  • Correlation isn't causation, but MS tried to push Kinect across two console generations and it was a flop.
When businesses spend money, they want to make sure it's well spent if they can. Sony managed to repurpose their R&D investments, whereas Microsoft pushed it as the same product until it died because they didn't have a worthwhile project for it.
 

sainraja

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Sony
  • Develops Move in response to Wii, tries to get in on that Wiimote money.
  • Incorporates the light bar into the DualShock 4 for Move combatibility
  • Incorporates all of that into VR
    • Channeled the leftovers from Wii chasing into its own developments
Microsoft
  • Develops Kinect in response to the Wii, tries to get in on that Wiimote money
  • Tries to go one further and bundle it in the Xbox One
  • Doesn't work out, Kinect is never heard from again
  • Xbox Series X doesn't mess around with gimmicks, the focus is on what it knows
    • Gamepass, install base/backwards compatibility
    • Xbox Series S|X is for traditional games, not bowling and Project Milo
  • Correlation isn't causation, but MS tried to push Kinect across two console generations and it was a flop.
When businesses spend money, they want to make sure it's well spent if they can. Sony managed to repurpose their R&D investments, whereas Microsoft pushed it as the same product until it died because they didn't have a worthwhile project for it.
What you are pointing out changes nothing about what I said. If you look at the landscape now (it doesn't matter how it got there which you seemed to be focusing on), motions controls are not the primary focus of any of the three platforms we have. They've become secondary or absent (in the case of Xbox.)

As for Sony and motion controls, well, they were experimenting with that on their own, even before the Wii released. They just didn't have the foresight to make it the default for their next console that Nintendo had with the Wii. It was more of a side project for them that they dabbled with, with the EyeToy. I saw a behind the scenes video that showed the guy working on EyeToy playing with a controller that somewhat resembled what we got with the move but again, not the point I was making!
 
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Bodomism

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Only mindless people will claim that Nintendo made Wii based on hyper niche Eye Toy when motion control technology has appeared way before that niche peripheral.
 

AJUMP23

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I thought this documentary was good and overall a fun watch. I think Phil is right that most people designing traditional consoles would have a hard time looking in other directions. That is one of the things that made the Wii design unique. Nintendo saw that they were struggling to compete on the power scale with other companies, so they created a differentiation model and made a product that appealed to everyone. Iwata seeing the Wii in R&D and having the foresight to go forward with it is amazing. Businesses often go through a rut where they continue down the same path. That is why MS and Sony traditionally develop based on more power. Iterative design, instead of revolutionary design.
 

Soodanim

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What you are pointing out changes nothing about what I said. If you look at the landscape now (it doesn't matter how it got there which you seemed to be focusing on), motions controls are not the primary focus of any of the three platforms we have. They've become secondary or absent (in the case of Xbox.)

As for Sony and motion controls, well, they were experimenting with that on their own, even before the Wii released. They just didn't have the foresight to make it the default for their next console that Nintendo had with the Wii. It was more of a side project for them that they dabbled with, with the EyeToy. I saw a behind the scenes video that showed the guy working on EyeToy playing with a controller that somewhat resembled what we got with the move but again, not the point I was making!
That's mostly because you argued a point I never made, mate. I get what you're saying, but it was never about the Wiimote. It was about the whole package of what the Wii was and the way it appealed to customers Sony and Microsoft could never dream of having with what they were doing. You thought I was saying Wii changed everything and both Sony and Microsoft dropped what they were doing forever to develop fake Wiis, so I clarified what I meant by the influence.
 
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Only mindless people will claim that Nintendo made Wii based on hyper niche Eye Toy when motion control technology has appeared way before that niche peripheral.
"niche," you know it sold over 10 million units right? Granted those sales were probably skewed towards Europe, but that hardly qualifies as "hyper niche" like the Virtual Boy.
 
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And the Wii was in response to the Eye-Toy.
Not really; Nintendo had prototypes of Wii-style controls in R&D since the dawn of the Gamecube gen. In fact at one point they were gonna release it as an add-on peripheral.

That is why MS and Sony traditionally develop based on more power. Iterative design, instead of revolutionary design.

Innovative design. Motion controls were nothing new with the Wii, prior systems like the MegaDrive/Genesis and even NES (IIRC) had motion control peripherals. The difference is that the Wii managed to build on those earlier attempts and iron out most of the kinks while making it palatable to a mainstream market.

I'd argue that even if their designs are more subtle on the outset, Sony and Microsoft brought and bring their own innovations too. Making online gaming mainstream with XBL, helping spearhead VR tech forward with PSVR (and helping it reach a bigger audience), and the many QoL perks and benefits with the new consoles that simply have no equivalents on Nintendo's platform, are notable innovations from the past to present.
 
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Panajev2001a

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Not really; Nintendo had prototypes of Wii-style controls in R&D since the dawn of the Gamecube gen. In fact at one point they were gonna release it as an add-on peripheral.

This was a public demo in 2004 and you bet they started far earlier than that if they released the EyeToy for PS2.



Glad Concern Concern agrees, in order to actually launch a product with working software and support third party developers you need quite a headstart compared to an internal prototype nobody outside the company has seen.

I bet someone thinks I was trying to state that Nintendo copied Sony there, 😂 so someone self-trolled himself.
 
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Panajev2001a

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Not really; Nintendo had prototypes of Wii-style controls in R&D since the dawn of the Gamecube gen. In fact at one point they were gonna release it as an add-on peripheral.



Innovative design. Motion controls were nothing new with the Wii, prior systems like the MegaDrive/Genesis and even NES (IIRC) had motion control peripherals. The difference is that the Wii managed to build on those earlier attempts and iron out most of the kinks while making it palatable to a mainstream market.

I'd argue that even if their designs are more subtle on the outset, Sony and Microsoft brought and bring their own innovations too. Making online gaming mainstream with XBL, helping spearhead VR tech forward with PSVR (and helping it reach a bigger audience), and the many QoL perks and benefits with the new consoles that simply have no equivalents on Nintendo's platform, are notable innovations from the past to present.

Despite always thinking that their post GCN consoles rose in revenue generation per unit but are a bit underpowered still, there is virtue and merit in their “Lateral thinking with withered technology” as people say.

They took the time to throw a lot of prototypes out, try again, and try again... and try again until the time was right to introduce the WiiMote and prove its worth with their own software and their first parties also were obviously an order of magnitude better prepared for it than others. The same about deploying the Switch hybrid strategy... they are masters at giving something their own unique and transformative spin. Sofia networks were not new, yet MiiVerse was an addictive well polished take I miss to this day.
 

sainraja

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If you wanted a Xbox One on launch day yes.
That is a silly distinction to make because during launch time, Microsoft had no intentions of selling the console without the Kinect. It was a decision they made based on the poor reception and criticism they got of bundling it.
 
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Soodanim

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I don’t know what I think about the Eye-Toy’s relevance in the Wii discussion. My first and only opinion of it came from trying it out pre-release at an event called PlayStation Experience in London when I was about 14, where I did a mini-game that involved wiping bubbles off the screen (I walked up close to the camera and wiped the whole screen with my lanyard pass then moved on). It was really basic webcam games stuff, not comparable to the tracked and translated input Wii did. It was arguably opposite in function, with the only similarity being movement based input. Perhaps that’s not the full measure of what it could do, but it seemed like that was the case.
 

sainraja

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That's mostly because you argued a point I never made, mate. I get what you're saying, but it was never about the Wiimote. It was about the whole package of what the Wii was and the way it appealed to customers Sony and Microsoft could never dream of having with what they were doing. You thought I was saying Wii changed everything and both Sony and Microsoft dropped what they were doing forever to develop fake Wiis, so I clarified what I meant by the influence.
Well, we might be saying the same thing or almost the same thing but your initial post mislead me a little then. Regardless, I think if motion controls had a lasting impact, it would be the default way of controlling across the board but I might have to take a lighter position on that even, because its not totally absent either.
 
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Bogroll

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That is a silly distinction to make because during launch time, Microsoft had no intentions of selling the console without the connect. It was a decision they made based on the poor reception and criticism they got of bundling it.
Stop trying to be clever, if I had wanted to buy a Xb1 on launch day or within the first 6 months or whatever it was I had to buy the Kinect with the Xb1 even if had no interest in it whatsoever.
 

sainraja

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Stop trying to be clever, if I had wanted to buy a Xb1 on launch day or within the first 6 months or whatever it was I had to buy the Kinect with the Xb1 even if had no interest in it whatsoever.
lol what? you just flipped from what you stated initially. You want me to stop being clever when I made no such attempt. You responded to someone else asking if people were forced to buy Kinect and you made a point of difference saying 'only during launch, yess" suggesting that it was clear then that people could wait and get it without the Kinect later. But the reality was, at the time, Kinect wasn't going anywhere. People who wanted an Xbox One, would also get Kinect. Microsoft only changed that decision due to the reception they got.
 

Bogroll

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lol what? you just flipped from what you stated initially. You want me to stop being clever when I made no such attempt. You responded to someone else asking if people were forced to buy Kinect and you made a point of difference saying 'only during launch, yess" suggesting that it was clear then that people could wait and get it without the Kinect later. But the reality was, at the time, Kinect wasn't going anywhere. People who wanted an Xbox One, would also get Kinect. Microsoft only changed that decision due to the reception they got.
I wanted a Xbox One at launch.I had no choice but to buy it with the Kinect. I was forced to buy it with the Kinect. How much clearer can I be. I'm a gamer I didn't want Kinect. Its not like i wanted to buy a Xbox without a controller. End of.
And what the heck do you mean I was suggesting it was clear if you wait you could get one without later on. I just said that because we know now.
 
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sainraja

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I wanted a Xbox One at launch.I had no choice but to buy it with the Kinect. I was forced to buy it with the Kinect. How much clearer can I be. I'm a gamer I didn't want Kinect. Its not like i wanted to buy a Xbox without a controller. End of.
And what the heck do you mean I was suggesting it was clear if you wait you could get one without later on. I just said that because we know now.
Okay, my bad. I just thought that was an odd way of responding to someone asking if you had to get kinect with Xbox One. If you say: "only during launch yess" then someone not familiar with it can understand it as: "Oh okay so they only bundled it with the launch shipments" ignoring the reality of that time. What was known vs what wasn't know. BUT I understand now what you were trying to say so we're saying the same thing! lol
 
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Bogroll

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Okay, my bad. I just thought that was an odd way of responding to someone asking if you had to get kinect with Xbox One. If you say: "only during launch yess" then someone not familiar with it can understand it as: "Oh okay so they only bundled it with the launch shipments" ignoring the reality of that time. What was known vs what wasn't know. BUT I understand now what you were trying to say so we're saying the same thing! lol
Ok cool. I thought maybe wires were getting crossed.:)
 
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LordBlodgett

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Who would have thought that this article, or Spencer's comments could be used to console war? Regardless of who was first with motion technology, the Wii was something unheard of. Nintendo bet the farm on a low powered device with motion controls as the main driving feature. It was super ballsy. Fortunately for them it paid off big time. Both Sony and Microsoft are these huge conglomerates that don't rely on just gaming to survive, you would think either of them could afford to take risks. Nintendo is not a huge conglomerate. They have gaming, and that's it.

Of course, looking at the bigger picture, Nintendo has always been willing to take large risks or to go against the grain, sometimes with good results, and sometimes not. Virtual Boy anyone? How about the N64 sticking to cartridges in a world where games were getting huge and needed discs? Or the DS, with its weird hinged design and a touchpad/stylus? Even the Wii U was trying something new, it just failed to make a compelling gaming case for why you needed screens on your controllers. Then of course there is the Switch. Who had ever heard of or played a portable/home console hybrid before the Switch?

I may not play that many Nintendo games anymore, but I respect the hell out of them and how risk taking and new ideas seems to be in their DNA.
 
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Kumomeme

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only nintendo has the guts push stuff like these. they even has their first party studio to accomodate the features.

originally the Wii controller patent idea was presented toward MS first, then later to Sony until Nintendo accept the idea.
 

Marvel14

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All fanboys need to get one thing through their thick skulls:

"There can be only one" is a stupid philosophy to hold on to if you're a videogame consumer who treasures affordable and innovative videogame experiences.

"3 is better than 1" is a tautology in any competitive market
 
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Kokoloko85

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The wii was my most disliked console Ive ever owned and Ive owned every Nintendo console/handheld apart from Virtual boy etc.
Had some great games but was a commercial gimmicky bunch of lies
 

NeoIkaruGAF

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Well, no shit Phil.

Also this N64 controller meme was never funny. Took exactly one minute to look at the instructions, try the controller in my hand, and understand it. Now the XBox Duke, that thing required three hands just to lift it, let alone grip it.
 
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Genx3

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I think the most innovative thing MS has ever done was Xbox Live and Achievements.

In fact, the whole first year of Xbox 360 all felt very ahead of it's time. With SF2 on Live Arcade, DOA4, a lot of highlights.

Not sure what happened to that era of MS. I miss that.

This is besides the point.

Phil is not saying that Xbox can't be innovative. Xbox has always been the most forward thinking console and others pretty much copy.

What Phil is saying is that to find the sort of Magic that Nintendo came up with the Wii is not easy and it takes very special talents.

I Like to compare Nintendo to Disney. Where PS would be MGM and XB Paramount.