How Sony and Microsoft both turned down the Wii controller tech
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that the Wii console put Nintendo back on the map, and was responsible for an onslaught of new wiggling-based gaming devices this generation. The technology behind, simple in idea and execution, opened up a whole new market for Nintendo, and earning them massive bags of cash that had a dollar sign emblazoned on the front. And that technology, almost belonged to Sony and Microsoft, before Nintendo carpe diemed it for themselves.
In an article on CVG, the original patent holder of the Wii tech, Tom Quinn, described how Sony and Microsoft passed up an opportunity to implement motion control in their hardware. “The meeting went terribly. The attitude I got from them was that if they wanted to do motion control, they would do it themselves and make a better job of it. I mean, they were just rude,” Quinn said of the pitch he delivered to Microsoft.
In fact, the meeting went so terribly that one of the executives came over to me afterwards and apologised on behalf of others. I remember him saying how this was not how Microsoft should be engaging with potential partners.
Failing at Microsoft, Quinn then headed eastwards to have a chat with legendary Sony developer Ken Kutaragi, who showed complete disdain for the device;
We were in a tiny little room with a big PC projector and Kutaragi comes in, introduces himself, sits down and – I swear this is true – he closed his eyes the moment I started showing my pitch. He never opened them until I had finished.
Kutaragi comes in, introduces himself, sits down and – I swear this is true – he closed his eyes the moment I started showing my pitch.
It was awkward, very awkward, but I still asked him for feedback and he said, ‘well, can you produce this for 50 cents?’ I laughed and explained that would be impossible, so again I left empty handed.
And all this, during an age where the Playstation 2 and original Xbox were flat out dominating the console generation of that age, with the underrated Nintendo Gamecube failing miserably;
You have to remember that Sony and Microsoft were by far the two biggest console manufacturers. Nintendo wasn’t doing well and we hadn’t thought much about them.
Still, Nintendo obviously saw some potential in the gyroscopic tech, enough to take a gamble on and make it the key selling point of their next console, codenamed Revolution back then, before settling on the Wii moniker.
“Looking back at the whole thing, it’s crazy how blind Sony and Microsoft were,” Quinn said. “They were busy beating the crap out of each other and didn’t consider Nintendo a strong competitor any more.”
The rest of the article is an extraordinary look at what goes on inside the iconic company today, but reading how Microsoft and Sony ignored that motion gaming technology, is unbelievable.
Of course, the two eventually jumped on the bandwagon when they saw how much cash Nintendo began to rake in, with Microsoft releasing the full-body wiggle control known as the Kinect, and Sony flat out copying Nintendo with their Sony Pii Move controllers.