Nintendo president Satoru Iwata’s Game Developers Conference keynote address on Wednesday covered many of the topics about which Nintendo watchers have been expecting an update: DSi development, Wii storage improvements, and “Zelda” franchise progress.
What Iwata never mentioned in his hour-long address was Wii MotionPlus, the small add-on that plugs into the base of the Wii remote and improves the controller’s motion sensitivity. The device was shown at E3 last July and demonstrated with a working version of “Wii Sports Resort.” That game had been listed for a 2009 spring release by Nintendo and was expected to bundle the MotionPlus.
With the game no longer listed on Nintendo’s calendar as a spring 2009 release and Iwata not addressing it to a hall full of developers, I asked Nintendo of America president Reggie-Fils Aime what was going on:
MTV Multiplayer: At E3, we were told that “Wii Sports Resort” would be a spring game. We got our hands on Wii Motion Plus, which seemed to be working well. But “Wii Sports Resort” and Motion Plus are absent from the spring line-up. What’s going on there?
Reggie Fils-Aime, President, Nintendo of America: We haven’t announced the full spring line-up… And it feels like winter in Seattle right now.
MTV Multiplayer: The lack of MotionPlus and any specifics on when it’s coming out — even as EA has their tennis game slotted for mid-June and their “Tiger Woods” game slotted for June [both of which support MotionPlus] — has led to speculation that …
Fils-Aime: You know we don’t comment on rumor and speculation…
MTV Multiplayer: Ok. The logical conclusion is that there would seemingly need to be a MotionPlus out when these games are out in June. At the same time — now I asked about the speculation part; here’s the rumor part — there were problems with MotionPlus development. Do you want to put any of that to rest? Is this project not going where it needs to be going?
Fils-Aime: We do not comment on rumor and speculation.
MTV Multiplayer: What would you say the status of MotionPlus is?
Fils-Aime: The status of Motion Plus is consistent with what we talked about at E3. “Wii Sports Resort” looks great. I’ve played it.
MTV Multiplayer: Recently?
Fils-Aime: I played it two weeks ago. It looks phenomenal.
MTV Multiplayer: Better than it was at E3?
MTV Multiplayer: Is the level of control nuance that I last experienced [at E3 in July 2008] equivalent to what you’re experiencing? Or are you experiencing better?
Fils-Aime: The level of full motion capability is far in excess of what we showed at E3.
As you can see, Fils-Aime was being guarded. But there still is a chance for Nintendo to meet the previously announced spring timeframe for MotionPlus, “Wii Sports Resort” or anything that has evolved from those two products. E3 takes place this year in the first week of June. Nintendo could update us on the status of MotionPlus then and still have almost three weeks of spring left during which to release something. We shall see.
(Look for much more from my interview with Fils-Aime early next week, after GDC has concluded. We covered a lot of material.)