Project Natal is Microsoft’s attempt to enter the realm of motion control technology, but will it fare well on the Xbox 360 against the mounting competition?
Take a look at why the Wii Motion Controller is working so well. It is fairly simple actually. The Wii Motion Controller was released as the first of its kind, so to speak, in the current generation of video game consoles. It had no competition at the start and took the video game industry by storm, selling more consoles than any other currently has. Project Natal, however, is entering at a later time alongside the PlayStation 3 motion controller that is coming out, which will certainly give it a run for its money. But besides the problem of competition there is a flaw within the premise of Project Natal itself.
Think about why the Wii Motion Controller has been so successful. Yes, because it is one of the first successful displays of motion control technology on a video game home console, but also because it has two physical peripherals required to control yourself. The feeling of something physical, something that gives you the ability to perform your on-screen actions is more important than what you might think.
Project Natal is a much more complex, arguably, motion control premise. It is a hands-free control scheme that just requires you to make movements in front of a sensor in order for it to be replicated on-screen. Does that sound familiar? Yes, the PlayStation 3 has had its eye toy out for some time now, that performed the exact same thing for months. To be honest, it did not gain much exposure either. Although Project Natal may be more complex than the Ps3 Eye Toy, it does not warrant more exposure to be gained or even more support.
Having a physical controller that allows you to make use of the motion control technology is deemed necessary for the fact that it is more convenient when playing a hardcore or intense game. You can use the controller to mimic a gun, a sword or any object that you may interact with in the game. It is a device that allows you to let your, and the developers, imagination run wild as you enter the digital world and act as if you are really there. Take a look at some of the Wii peripherals or even some of the PlayStation 3 motion controller demos that simulate archery or sword fighting; it can be really amazing. But with Project Natal, you have a hands free interface that seems geared solely to family and party games. Intense games can not be mimicked by such an interface, successfully at all, which takes out many of the video gamers who own an Xbox 360.
So why will Project Natal fail? Project Natal has done the costly job of alienating part of their fan base by coming out with an interface, a technology, that can not effectively perform well in the intense or hardcore gaming niches. As of now, the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 motion controllers will most likely see more support from developers as it can get the job done much better than Project Natal will be able to. So for those of you with high hopes for Project Natal, keep hoping, because it seems that Microsoft has done a great hit and miss here.