You’ll Take Your $20 Peripheral and Like It

I’m going to spend some time whining about all the whining.

I spent some time recently asking Wii owners about the MotionPlus, and I was surprised to learn how angry many of them were about the new peripheral. To describe them as “energetic” would be generous; some of them were down-right infuriated. The general consensus from this subsection of Wii owners is that (suddenly) Nintendo has sold them an incomplete product, and they should make it up to them by giving them a free MotionPlus.


When pressed for supporting arguments, the reasons were as follows: 1) the Wii’s motion-sensing is crap, 2) they advertised it as 1:1 motion-sensing, this is false advertising, and 3) they’re just gouging us because they’re greedy, like all big business.

Let me answer all three arguments as succinctly as I know how.

You’re a moron.

Here are the simple facts:

1) The Wii’s motion control is what it is, and has been for years.

Look, Nintendo has sold exactly three and a half craptillion Wii consoles since it came out, and until last year criticism of the motion control implementation has been confined to the occasional game review. It came out, and we bought it. We’re talking here about the technological implementation. Whether the concept of motion control is sound, and whether it’s being used intelligently by developers isn’t a part of this discussion. If you have a Wii, and you keep buying games for it, I have to assume that you’ve been content with the controls. Could they be better? Yeah, but it’s not like they’ve had a lot of competition. The PS3’s Sixaxis is a total turd (unqualified statement). Simply put, Nintendo was providing the best motion control on the market.

This is an important point. Let’s imagine you buy some strawberries from your grocer. You eat them all, enjoying them immensely, and then go back a week later for more. Now let’s suppose the grocer has more in, and you sample one and discover that these strawberries are even better than last week’s. Do you then demand free strawberries, because now you feel like you got gypped last week? Your grocer gave you the best strawberries available for that price, and now you call him a crook and demand compensation?

What’s it like in pink unicorn land, where everyone’s as insane as you? They sold you exactly the product they said they would. You are not entitled to a free upgrade just because it’s not available at a cost the grocer is willing to pay.

2) They most certainly did not advertise 1:1.

I really don’t know what else to say to that, and I don’t understand where this came from. They absolutely, positively have never said a single thing about high fidelity, 1:1 motion controls. Find me an instance where they did, and I will eat all the hats in the world.

3) The facts simply don’t support any arguments of avarice.

Let’s talk technology, shall we? The Wii MotionPlus uses a type of Vibrating Structure Gyroscope called an MEMS Tuning Fork Gyroscope. Now, this isn’t new tech, but miniature gyroscopes have only become particularly affordable in the last few years. Even so, the cheapest MEMS gyroscopes right now are a little less than $10 per, and it’s a sage bet that Nintendo isn’t using the cheapest ones available. Still, that’s half the cost of the MotionPlus right there, not including development costs (software, hardware, etc), the cost of other parts, marketing, etc. Nintendo’s assuredly turning a profit on them, or anticipates turning a profit within a year or so, but they’re not making a mint.

There’s a refreshingly detailed explanation of why it wasn’t included in the Wii originally here (as well as the trouble they had getting the damned things to work.) I’ll sum it up quickly: they couldn’t have met the $250 price point in 2006.

Simple as that. You could have had it, but the Wii would have cost more.

I know your sense of entitlement is still feeling wounded, but you really need to get over this. You do not deserve free new toys because you were an early adopter of an untested piece of technology, nor were you sold a bill of rights when you bought the damned thing. You got, as they say, what you paid for.

Now, do I think the peripheral will be a success in America? Maybe. Normally I’d say no without a second thought, given how well console upgrades have worked historically. But Nintendo cites developer feedback as one of the primary reasons why development of the gyroscope sensors continued even after the console was released. If there are good games that leverage it, then it’ll probably do fine. It’s sold well in Japan so far. However, $80 for a controller (remote, nunchuck, MotionPlus) is an awfully steep price to swallow.


~ by Matt Altieri on July 9, 2009.

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