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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Nintendo challenges gaming basics
Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata
Satoru Iwata revealed the controller at the Tokyo Games Show
Nintendo's next generation games console, the Revolution, has no intention of becoming the living room's digital media hub.

The upcoming Microsoft Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will vie to be the home's gaming and media hub, as part of the strategy to widen gaming's appeal.

But Revolution aims to shake the basic formula of gaming to attract new people to the world of gaming, says Nintendo.

Microsoft starts the next-gen console war on 22 November in the US.

Sony and Nintendo follow with their wares in 2006.

Changing basics

Although there are scarce technical details about the Revolution, Jim Merrick, senior marketing director for Nintendo, told the BBC News website that it would offer new possibilities and a completely different experience by changing gaming's basic formula.

"By following conventional wisdom of making bigger, faster games, we were narrowing our audience more to hardcore gamers," he said.

A decision was made to change that thinking and "reach out" to non-traditional potential gamers.

Image of Microsoft's Xbox
The Xbox plans to be a digital entertainment hub
This is in line with what Sony, Microsoft and the wider games industry wants to do. By reaching out with gaming gear and titles that appeal to more people, more money is made.

Each of the next-generation consoles promise to change the gaming experience too.

But Sony and Microsoft's strategy differs from Nintendo's. The Revolution is not intended to be a digital entertainment hub housing all your digital content that can be accessible throughout the home.

"Our core business is not about the electronic distribution of content. Our expertise is making great games," said Mr Merrick.

Revolution does aim to take a comfortable spot in the living however: "It has to fit your lifestyle," explained Mr Merrick.

But the games industry has to do more to provide a platform that demonstrates a compelling reason why a next generation of gaming technology is needed, said Mr Merrick.

"The Xbox 360 is a technically delicate machine," he added.

"It has good processors and graphics, but it is a Xbox on steroids. They have not changed the basic formula at all," he argued.

Breaking barriers

Changing the basic formula to attract other than hard core gamers is key to the next generation, and Nintendo has learned a lot about how to do that through innovative ways to play games.

Mr Merrick said the recently announced Nintendo Revolution controller is part of its strategy to unpick assumptions about gaming at the core.

"From a technology standpoint, the Revolution controller breaks down barrier to games," he said.

Image of Sony PlayStation EyeToy
EyeToy introduced a more sociable and active element to games
"It looks like a simple remote, which makes it approachable and relevant for all members of the household. The TV remote is something everyone understands."

By challenging not just the types of games that people can play, but the way they play them is key to Nintendo, said Mr Merrick.

Designing a games controller that, as Mr Merrick puts it, does not resemble something "my mother would pick it up by its cable like a dead rat", is part of the process.

The controller can be used like a laser pointer and responds to movement.

In a flight simulation game, for instance, the easiest way to control the craft will be to hold it in the hand like a model airplane and fly it.

In a Mario game, instead of pressing a button to jump, the controller is bounced up. Air instrument enthusiasts can drum virtually holding a controller in each hand.

It sounds very much like the social type of gaming experience that the PlayStation EyeToy camera and games introduced.

Nintendo has also learned from its success in the handheld gaming market, which it dominates, and with the Nintendo DS in particular.

It has attracted fans because it offered an entirely new way to interact with games - through two screens, one of them being touch-sensitive. With the DS, it is also laying its tracks for wireless network gaming.

About 87,000 DSs were sold in its first week in UK shops in March.

But more than 185,000 Sony PlayStation Portables (PSPs) sold in its first four days on sale in the UK alone, so Nintendo has some competition from Sony to face.

Whatever the fate of the Revolution console when it finally hits shops, Mr Merrick said the company will not be measuring that success in the same way as its competition does.

"Nintendo is an entertainment company. We do sell hardware and software, but what we are producing is entertainment."




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