Maybe I Don't Want to Move, Microsoft

Project Natal is now just five months away from hitting the market. Don't be surprised if the market doesn't care.

Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) bold foray into motion-based controls for its Xbox 360 console has been public news for nearly a year. In an attempt to cash in on the revolutionary controller pioneered by rival Nintendo's (OTCBB: NDTOY.PK) Wii, Project Natal is Microsoft's initiative to create a new generation of titles that get diehard gamers up off the couch and moving around. Not to be outdone, Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) is also working on a similar Move system for its PS3.

Microsoft marketing manager Syed Bilal Tariq told GamerTagRadio that the system will launch worldwide "somewhere in October," and that the exact date will be revealed during next month's E3 Expo.

The media has been buzzing about Natal and Move lately, and I'm sure that the fervor will only intensify once next month's conference comes around. However, I suspect that gamers won't care.

It seems to be a forgone conclusion that the Wii became a hit -- despite inferior specs and a lack of DVD or Blu-ray playback -- because of its motion-based controller. But I don't buy that.

For starters, the Wii debuted at a price point roughly half of what rival consoles charged. This must have made a difference, especially as the global economy soured. It's no surprise that Sony and Microsoft are finally gaining ground after several price cuts.

The Wii helped its cause by bundling its console with a collection of sports-themed games that showcased the revolutionary controller, but I'm guessing that the novelty is already wearing thin.

Nintendo recently posted its first decline in annual profitability in six years, with sales shrinking 22% in its fiscal year that ended in March. In other words, even if the motion-based controller made the Wii popular initially, consumers no longer care.

The novelty of other "stand up" titles has also faded away. Activision Blizzard's (Nasdaq: ATVI  ) Guitar Hero and Viacom's (NYSE: VIA  ) Rock Band franchises are fading, as gamers put down their plastic guitars and sit back for multiplayer combat titles and engrossing RPGs.

I'm fairly sure that Microsoft and Sony will release breakthrough titles that raise the gaming bar for their motion-based platforms. Unfortunately, I doubt many diehard gamers will be willing to give them a standing ovation.

What do you think of motion-based controllers? Will Project Natal and Move be game-changers? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Activision Blizzard and Nintendo are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Motley Fool Options has recommended a synthetic long position on Activision Blizzard and a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has all three consoles around his house. He'd get up to show you, but that would defeat his point. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2010, at 3:46 PM, Borbality wrote:

    Sounds like you think videogames are dead altogether. I don't really understand where you're going with this one.

    However, I also doubt that the Move and Natal systems will make much of a splash. I assume most hardcore gamers think the Wii is kids stuff.

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2010, at 4:34 PM, Sythierius wrote:

    Well the Wii is designed for motion controls, and most of the games are compatible with them. This won't have as many compatible games. Natal and Move will most likely flop, since people that want a motion controller already have a wii. If the price tag is $60 bundled with a game or two that supports the motion controls, I may purchase it. Otherwise, I will just stick with my wii that I hardly ever use.

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2010, at 4:41 PM, mikemorel wrote:

    Did you ever ask anyone you know why they bought the Wii?

    The answer is "because of the motion control".

    Old people, women, children, casual gamers, are intimidated by controllers with lots of controls to learn.

    It really IS that simple. But hey, keep looking for other reasons, if you feel the need.

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2010, at 5:01 PM, dileepkrp wrote:

    With all due respect Sir, you don't have a clue about video games. I am not a gamer and I love my Wii not because it is just $199, but because it is total pure fun to play games in it.

    The beauty of Natal, from what I can see, is ability to move your body (you don't need to shake violently) realistically to get your avatar counterpart to move in the same way.. it is like living in the game, like living in a movie. I bet you don't have the foresight to anticipate the awesomeness of that.

    Sorry to say, but this is a very clueless article in my opinion.

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2010, at 5:26 PM, woodszilla wrote:

    80% of women prefer the Wii to xbox360 and ps3. Maybe Move and Natal aren't geared toward hardcore gamers as much as they are geared to integrating female consumers into their customer base.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 10:27 AM, rtichy wrote:

    No doubt the attraction of the Wii is the simpler controller for many people. The simpler games, too.

    Hardcore gamers on the other hand, enjoy the complex games and complex controllers AND they spend "hardcore" portions of their income on games.

    Wii vs. xBox vs. PS3 isn't just about popularity and who enjoys which, but also about the businesses behind those 3 platforms and which owners show up to buy more, often.

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