Success breeds imitators, and there was few success stories in the industry of a decade ago like the Nintendo Wii. After the system's meteoric rise upon its late 2006 launch, it was only a matter of time before Microsoft and Sony rolled out their own spin on motion controls.
As it turned out, those fast follows wouldn't be so fast after all, with both companies waiting until E3 2009 in June to show off their efforts. The PlayStation Move was the biggest surprise of Sony's show (considering the PSP Go's unveiling had been spoiled days before the show), but it was a fairly straight-forward product: essentially a Wii Remote with better tracking.
"This is true technology science fiction has not even written about, and this works, now, today"
Peter Molyneux
On the other hand, Microsoft's offering was something entirely new. Unveiled as Project Natal (but eventually released as Kinect), Microsoft's motion controller was a depth-sensitive camera that completely removed the need for a traditional controller. It was clearly cutting edge technology, so cutting edge that it .
When it comes to truth in marketing, Microsoft deserves full credit for debuting ambitious and unproven technology with a live demo. It perhaps deserves less credit for the prepared demo videos it showed off. One of them featured mock-ups for a generic assortment of standard genres adapted for motion controls with pantomimed gestures. Another more ambitious clip had Peter Molyneux unveiling a Lionhead project called Milo.
"This is true technology science fiction has not even written about, and this works, now, today," Molyneux said about Milo.
With the benefit of hindsight, we know that many of the experiences showcased in the clips never came to pass. Hold up your own skateboard so the camera can scan it in and replicate it in-game? Nope. Draw something on a piece of paper and wave it by the camera at super speed so Milo can "grab" it in-game and interpret what's on the paper and then react to it naturally? I'm not sure any part of that was actually realized by Kinect.
"My guess is that where this ends up is: motion controllers end up with half the market"
John Riccitiello
Still, the technology clearly had potential. Microsoft corporate vice president Shane Kim said Natal would "reinvent the industry and revolutionize home entertainment." Take-Two CEO Ben Feder said Natal was looking pretty good, adding, "Every now and then you end up with a real dog that doesn't lead anywhere, but I don't expect that to happen here."