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The forthcoming motion-sensing game controllers from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Computer Entertainment will hardly boost sales of Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 game consoles, claims the head of Square Enix, a leading game publisher. Moreover, it may become even harder for Microsoft and Sony to compete with Nintendo, which is likely to release its next-generation system by 2011.

“Present game machines already have a lot of functions: they are a network terminal, a Blu-ray or DVD player, and a gaming machine. Compared to these three pillars, the [new motion] controllers are quite limited, so the impact may be small. They are an extension of the gaming function,” said Yoichi Wada, chief executive of game publisher Square Enix, in an interview with the Financial Times.

While Mr. Wada does not underestimate the advantages of motion-sensing game controllers, he does note that it is rather difficult to develop high-quality title supporting the new controllers. Moreover, since new controllers are not supplied with game systems by default and have to be acquired separately, game developers should keep in mind that titles that take advantage of Microsoft Natal or Sony’s controller will not appeal to complete installed bases. Nevertheless, the head of Square Enix expects motion-sensing controllers to become standard.

“As a user interface it’s fantastic and I think it will become standard,” said Mr. Wada.

Mr. Wada also expressed expectation expected that Nintendo would release “a new Wii” by 2011, with functionality more like that of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 or Sony’s PlayStation 3, and possibly a different controller. This is hardly the first time when market observers expect Nintendo to add high-definition graphics to its ultra-popular Wii game console.

Nintendo Wii is only slightly more powerful than that inside PS2 and the original Xbox. It is very likely that the company spent loads of time optimizing the costs of its hardware instead of boosting its performance. As a result, it is very likely that internally the firm has been working on something more powerful than Wii. Theoretically, this could be so-called Wii HD, but considering that fundamental technology development for Wii was finished around 2004 at the latest, the company has already had five years to develop something completely new, not just an update to Wii.

Tags: Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Square Enix, Xbox, Playstation, Wii

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