Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nintendo Wii-U can do VR gaming, too! But XBox Fortaleza will rule the experience

The Nintendo Wii-U will be available tomorrow on the North American market, but I can already foresee a possible application for the screen-enabled gamepad; mounting it on a seperate helmet accessory, so the screen is floating in front of your eyes. Also mount a standard Wiimote controller on it, and you get hand-tracking. Use another standard Wiimote controller in your hand, and if the game is coded properly, you can have seperate motion tracking of your head, and of your arm. The experience could be very similar to what the Oculus will try to achieve on the PC platform, except without 3D stereoscopic graphics (since the Wii-U GamePad's screen does not have any stereoscopic abilities) and lower specs.

Fortaleza glasses will be released for the next XBox console (planned for 2015, most likely to be delayed until 2016). Those glasses are promising an immersive gameplay experience, and I can't do anything else than believe that Microsoft will partially hit their goal. I say partially, because just like what happened for Kinect v.1, there won't be as many developers jumping aboard as wished by the gamers. This story will inevitably repeat a second time, because this is a proven fact that a peripheral that is not being introduced with the system at launch will be provocating userbase fragmentation. And developers want the biggest userbase possible; this is allowing them to forecast an higher sales volume.

But hey, this is a good strategy nonetheless, because Microsoft first need to attract gamers to their console first, and bundling it in a mandatory manner with a high-priced peripheral right at launch would play in nobody's favor. They will introduce Fortaleza glasses somewhere near the console's mid-life (or they will stretch as much as possible to release it for the console after this one), so gamers will be more likely to put more cash on the table (very promising and exciting demos but very few full-lenght games will be showcased), and this will allow Microsoft to re-introduce the technology (a revised model, just like Kinect v.2) by default at their 9th-generation console launch; at that moment, all developers will know that all gamers will have it, and this is when we will start to see a LOT of very interesting titles.

You can see the leaked XBox 720 specs document over there (remember that devkits are often more powerful than the real thing): (mirror)

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