Nintendo’s Wii U is launching into a competitive environment where tablet computers are increasingly popular gaming devices. 22Cans founder Peter Molyneux is excited but somewhat skeptical of the appeal of the Wii U and Microsoft’s SmartGlass.
“The thing about the SmartGlass is that the tablet is a thing that you have with you all the time. Now, in that sense, I understand completely as a consumer and I’m excited to see what these guys do with it. But I do have a problem with it. I now have a screen in front of me on my lap and a screen up on the wall that I’m looking at. Which one should I be looking at Should I be looking up at the big screen and down, or at my lap and up Should I be checking down on my lap every few seconds What’s going to incentivize me to move my eyes from the wall to my lap — said Molyneux. “I think what people do when they have multiple screens is something very simple. They will listen to the big screen whilst distracting themselves on the small screen. That’s not what SmartGlass and Wii U are talking about. They’re talking about producing an entertainment experience that you’re engrossed in.”
“The psychology of making a game is hard enough because plasma screens are so big now. It’s hard enough to get the player to move their eyes from the center of the screen to the borders,” he added. “Getting people to move their eyes from the screen down to their laps is incredibly hard. There has to be some huge motivational thing like the words coming up, ‘Look at your GamePad now.’ If you’re going to do that, from a design perspective that sounds a bit clumsy and complex.”
Molyneux is skeptical of the mainstream appeal of the Wii U, not only in a tactile gameplay sense but also in price. “I struggle to see anything amazing coming out of Nintendo. There are a few, ‘Oh, that’s smart,’ but there’s nothing that makes me rush out as a consumer to buy the new device. I’ll give you a great example of how tech should be used. It’s what Nintendo did with the Wii when it first came out. They introduced motion control. They were one of the first companies to introduce motion control and they had a fantastic Wii Sports Game. As soon as I picked up the controller and started waving it around, I got it. I already understood it. But I’m not sure there’s a same sort of application out there for Wii U. I think to myself, ‘Well, what’s the reason to get it ‘” he said.