Video game controllers need innovation

June 14, 2013: 12:53 PM ET
Innovative controllers missing at E3
LOS ANGELES (CNNMoney)

The Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Wii U consoles all let players control games with motion -- but you wouldn't know it from the games the console makers are promoting.

At this year's E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, the only mention of motion control came in the form of a few concept demos and Microsoft's (MSFT) announcement of Kinect Sports Rivals. Sony (SNE) didn't make a peep. And despite the fact that developers have had a year to make sense of Nintendo's Wii U GamePad, which comes complete with motion sensors and a touchscreen, not a single game on display at Nintendo's booth used those technologies in a manner resembling anything interesting.

Of course, not every game needs motion control. But considering the fat that Microsoft and Nintendo ship motion control technologies with every new console they sell, there's no risk of developing a game that a select few have the capability to play.

Related story: Nintendo sticking to its strategy despite soft sales

Could Microsoft and Sony not tap a single developer in advance of E3 to conjure up an amazing idea for the Kinect 2 and Eye Camera? Could Nintendo not call upon its own army of in-house developers -- which includes Mario and Zelda visionary Shigeru Miyamoto -- to make us care about its clunky GamePad?

Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all talk about how much they value this new way of controlling games, and they're not putting their money where their mouths are.

The good news for motion control fans is that all hope wasn't entirely lost at this year's E3 conference.

Oculus, known for its Rift virtual reality headset that can track your head movement in real time, showed off a high-definition prototype of its hardware that makes the entire experience significantly more immersive.

The company partnered up with game developer CCP, which is working on a space fighter game for the Oculus Rift called Eve-VR. The experience of playing Eve-VR was so jarringly realistic that it almost affirmed the last 30 years of virtual reality's promises in one fell swoop. The scary part is that Eve-VR, which lets you pilot a space fighter thrown in the middle of a dogfight, was just a rudimentary demo that is hardly finished.

Occulus and CCP offered a glimpse of controller innovation that the Big Three console makers keep promising and not fully delivering.

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