Everyone knows the reason that Microsoft is developing Natal is to capture some of that Wii magic: the wide target market, the casual gamer, and the exercise games that the mainstream media falls in love with. However, according to Valve’s Chet Faliszek, Natal will also have to fight past the Wii’s weaknesses to find success. In other words, Valve and other Xbox 360 devs will be waiting to see if Natal can be more than just a gimmick used to draw in the casual market.
Faliszek says he actually owns two Wiis but hasn’t found many compelling titles to play after the 2006 launch. Wii fans like myself will now want to go on a tirade about how Faliszek isn’t looking hard enough, but he does have a point. That is, Wii certainly lacks a lot of the blockbuster titles that get PS3 and 360 fans excited. While Natal will have no trouble attracting producers of the Wii’s “shovelware” to make 360 games, the real test will be if the new technology can reel in devs like Valve, Bethesda, Bungie, and others that would not make games for Wii.
While the Wii has found some third party support from devs like Ubisoft, Suda 51, and Platinum Games, the main reason the Wii is successful is because Nintendo was so good at producing software that was perfect for Wii. They did this by taking existing successful franchises and tweaking them to fit the Wii’s controls. Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart Wii, and Metroid Prime 3 are all good examples of this. Here’s where the Xbox 360 and Natal will face their greatest challenge. Because Natal is an even more extreme change from the norm than the Wii Remote, developers won’t just be able to slightly tweak their games to make them fit Natal. It will likely take some entirely outside the box thinking to make a successful blockbuster Natal game to convince Microsoft’s supporters to create for the new tech.