Posted August 24th, 2011 by Michael.
With the casual gaming space becoming increasingly crowded with competitors, you may be asking yourself which game console is right for your event. The best answer of course is always to include all of them and let your guests choose for themselves! J Though we’ll do our best to give the pros and cons of each system so that you might be better informed if you have to decide on one system or another.
The Wii was the first to jump into the casual games arena in 2006 while its biggest competitors scoffed at the idea of creating games that appealed to the masses. What followed was essentially a gaming revolution. Wiis flew off the shelves and into households that had never been interested in the medium before. Children challenged their grandparents to games of tennis and countless televisions were ruthlessly destroyed by overenthusiastic bowlers.
Seeing how huge the potential market was, Microsoft and Sony began at this point to develop their own products to compete in the new casual games market. Their products (the Kinect and Move respectively) would not hit the market until late 2010.
Below is a quick overview on each of the 3 systems and how they can best be differentiated.
The Wii revolutionized the video game industry by introducing the casual games genre. The motion-sensing controllers were revolutionary for their time and the intuitive and addictive games captured the attention of people of all ages. Since then, Nintendo has done little to improve the formula and the novelty has worn off for many people. That said, the Wii still has some fantastic games available and name has the name brand that consumers most associate with casual games.
The main controllers include the Wii Remote (with optional Wii Motion Plus accessory) and the Nunchuck attachment. The controllers use a combination of infrared sensors and accelerometers to detect the motions of the players.
The Wii Remotes are powered by 2 AA batteries and the Nunchuck is powered by the Wii Remote, allowing for an easy fix if the batteries run out during an event.
Additional accessories that work in conjunction with the traditional controls include: steering wheels, guns, fishing poles, boxing gloves, and various other sports equipment.
Since the Wii had a good 4 year head start, there are a lot more choices than there are for its competition. There’s no shortage of sports, hunting, fishing, party games, racing, fighting, and many other event-friendly games. However, many of the titles are cartoonish, and geared more towards children than for the general public. People never seem to get sick of classics such as Wii Sports though.
While many of the games look decent on the Wii, there are severe limitations due to the fact that it does not have the ability to output in HD (480p). It thus does not look nearly as sharp when positioned side by side with its HD competition.
Due to its technical limitations, the Wii is best suited for audiences that are either unaware or indifferent to these limitations. Thus, the Wii is ideal for younger children as well as non-technical or at least non-gamer adult professionals.
Kinect for Xbox 360
The Kinect is the new kid on the block. Rather than try to create a better motion controller than the Wii, they took the controller out of the equation completely. Instead, the Kinect works by tracking the movement of the players using special sensors. This provides a perfect platform for many dance and sports games but limits its functionality since there’s no way to press a button with no controller.
The Kinect has taken motion-based gameplay to the next level by taking controllers out of the equation completely. The gameplay is controlled completely by the movements of the player. The Kinect sensor itself consists of two 3D depth sensors and a camera that are able to accurately track the movements of a person standing in front of it.
Games for the Kinect are somewhat limited for the time being due to the small amount of time developers have had. However, there are still some great titles out there that make great use of the new technology. Kinect Sports, Kinect Adventures, Fruit Ninja, and Carnival Games are the ones we’ve seen the best response to so far.
The new Xbox 360 Slim models that were introduced shortly before the Kinect have full 1080p capability, allowing for stunning graphics from games. However, most of the games that have come out so far do not take great advantage of this. Most of the Kinect games are somewhat cartoony in appearance and though they are a big step up from the graphics found on the Wii, they do not yet compare to other “core” titles on the 360.
The Kinect is the latest development in the gaming world. Thus it is perfect for those who have maybe been over-saturated by Wii games and are looking for something new. Tech-savvy non-gamers are a perfect fit for Kinect games. Many core gamers will still have fun playing on the Kinect though they will never admit to it to their chat room buddies. Also, since there is a lot of movement involved in the gameplay, some overly shy guests will be hesitant to play before having a couple drinks.
Since the Kinect reads the movements of the players it is important that your event space has enough room so as not to get in the way of the players.
Move for Playstation 3
With the Move, Sony looked not just to appeal to the new casual gamer market, but rather to utilize the ideas behind motion-based games and add that functionality to core games. This means that the Move has fewer casual titles that would be suitable for events and also that some of the controls may be less intuitive to a non-gamer. However, the Move has several things going for it and should not be ignored when planning a party involving video games.
The Playstation Move has adopted two types of controllers very similar to those on the Wii – a wand-style motion controller, and a navigation controller. The motion controller is the main component of the system and utilizes inertial sensors similar to the Wii controller. Rather than using infrared to track the position of the controller in 3D, it utilizes a camera positioned above or below the TV. The camera recognizes the controller based on the light emitted from a bulb on the top of the wand. This provides a more accurate motion tracking system than that of the Wii. The navigation controller is similar to the Wii’s nun chuck, only wireless and with more buttons for, well, navigation through menus and whatnot.
Both of the controller types utilize internal rechargeable batteries. This is a nice feature if you are playing out home. However, this limits their usability at events. If a controller runs out of juice, you don’t have time to recharge it. This means that you must always plan ahead and have extra equipment on hand in case this happens.
Similar to the Kinect, there are not an overwhelming number of titles currently available on the Move. Also, Sony has made a clear emphasis on focusing on integrating this new technology into core games, meaning less development time is spent trying to compete in the casual games market. All that said, there are still a hand full of great titles that work well for events. Sports Champions and Start the Party are both great options depending on the group you are looking to entertain.
Like the Xbox 360, the PS3 has full 1080p capability. Sports Champions is probably the best looking game in the entire casual games genre. However, the image provided by the Playstation camera falls well short of expectations. Images of players appear grainy and discolored. Overall though, you’re likely to find the most impressive graphics on the PS3 Move games.
The Move, despite its advantages, has sort of been eclipsed by the Kinect in the casual games marketplace. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be a great complimentary piece for many events. It does not have the same space constraints as the Kinect and it has games suitable for people of all ages. Some of the titles can be slightly more difficult to pick up and play than those for the Wii and Kinect. For this reason, it is not ideal for groups that are completely technologically incompetent. It works great as a complementary piece for events with a variety of game systems. If you have a group of core gamers, you could also try setting up some of the more advanced titles.
When determining the right games for your event just remember that just about anyone could have a great time on any of these systems. The Wii has the most games available, the Kinect is the newest and most innovative, and the Move has the best graphics and highest precision controls. Or for the pessimists, the Wii has the worst graphics, the Kinect is finicky in the presence of large crowds, and the Move has inconvenient rechargeable batteries and overly complicates what should be simple games.
I hope that helps, and feel free to leave a comment with your questions or contact us directly with any questions you may have about which console is best for your particular event.