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St John: Games will be differentiated by input controllers

Wild Tangent's CEO says the Wii proves the point that games will be differentiated by input, not graphics

The Wii proves the point that games will be differentiated by new input controllers and not graphics, according to Wild Tangent CEO Alex St John.

"Of the three consoles in the market, the only one that's profitable is the one that used an old graphics chip and off the shelf components and instead differentiated by an input device," he told Wedbush Morgan Management Access Conference attendees.

"So what you see is that the role for retailers and for the Wii and for next generation games is new types of input devices define the experience."

St John said that games based upon unique input devices - dancing games, machine gun games, motorcycle games - are all that's left of the arcade business after the console wiped it out.

"You'll also notice that it is happening in the console space. Rock Band and Guitar Hero aren't defined by being the most spectacular 3D games - they're defined by a new type of input devices to find a new type of gameplay.

"To bolster that point, I'd say that's what the Wii shows - that the future of gaming is going to be defined by controllers, not necessarily by the 3D graphics chip in the console that they come with."

Fellow panelist Nolan Bushnell added: "I'd like to amplify that by saying it's not just input controllers, but entertainment by its nature can always profit from innovation."

"And innovation isn't "bigger, faster, better," which is sort of the PS3 kind of idea on the graphics side. But it is all kinds of innovation, from Rock Band...I think there is going to be a whole other area of innovation which will be the immersive game."

EA Casual's Kathy Vrabeck, another panelist, conceded the input argument, but noted that the Wii's strength is how it has engaged other people in the household.

"Historically, when you would see a teenaged boy with a PS2, or Xbox 360, or the original Xbox - that was their machine, and other people, whether it was parents or younger brothers and sisters, would walk by and see 'That's too hard for me' or 'That's content that's either inappropriate or too hard or too mature for me.'"

"What we've seen with the Wii is that it's the same guys initially bringing it into the household and being the guys who ask for it for holiday. But once it's in the house, you talk to any Mom who is in that house, or little kid, and they've played Wii bowling and they did all the Wii sports and now all of the sudden it is a console that is also for them."

Third-party publishers weren't willing to try and sell games to Moms and girls in the past because they didn't own the hardware, Vrabeck said. The Wii has changed that.

"As a software publisher, we can now make games for them that they'll be interested in."

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Mark Androvich

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