Nintendo kicked off its big E3 event with America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime singing the praises of the Wii and the DS.
But the keynote comes amid multiple threats to the Nintendo juggernaut, from the likes of Microsoft and Apple . And how Nintendo responds, and how quickly, will determine whether its best days are behind it, or still ahead.
Why the seriousness?
Nintendo has owned casual gaming, and its Wii console opened the gaming business to a whole new slice of consumers who watched the ever-increasing complexity of console games pass them by. Nintendo's revolutionary controller for the Wii turned the traditional gaming concept upside down. And its portable DS crushed Sony's much more complex Playstation Portable.
But with yesterday's news from Microsoft, unveiling the rebranded Project Natal as "Kinect," Nintendo's cool game-play platform seems almost quaint by comparison. The new Xbox motion and camera controlled interface will work just as well with Halo and Gears of War eventually, as it does with games for kids like Kinectamals and Yoga and a growing library of sports titles. Don't underestimate the importance of being able to dispense with a handheld controller, or being able to interact naturally with your games just by speaking or gesturing. That's what makes Xbox and Kinect a leapfrog technology today the way Nintendo and Wii leapfrogged the industry yesterday.
Kinect is a full, frontal assault on Nintendo, plain and simple, and comes from an unlikely source: Nintendo had always been focused on rival Sony as it's biggest potential threat, and for good reason: Sony's "Move" controller system is kind of like the Wii controller hopped up on Red Bull. But it's Microsoft that seems to be mounting what could be Nintendo's biggest console concern.