Report: Nintendo passed on Natal tech back in 2007

Tuesday, 26th January 2010 20:46 GMT By Stephany Nunneley


Looks like Nintendo bossman Satoru Iwata was shown Natal’s tech at one point and passed on it due to latency and price-point reservations, according to CVG.

Speaking anonymously to the site, a source at Nintendo HQ in Japan stated that before Israeli firm 3DV Systems was purchased by Microsoft, it showed an early demo of the technology to Iwata during 2007.

While impressed with the tech, Nintendo passed on it, as Iwata did not feel the tech was a fit for Wii.

“Iwata-San only ever invests in something he can guarantee will work for a Nintendo audience,” the exec told CVG.

“3DV showed off a camera that detected motion in 3D, and had voice recognition – but Iwata-San was unconvinced he could sell it at a Nintendo price point. He also had some worries around latency during gameplay.

“Honestly – I’ve heard Iwata describe the prototype he saw at length, and it’s definitely Natal. What we witnessed at E3 was smaller and the facial [reading] stuff had improved, but it’s the same technology.

“We remain unconvinced Natal will deliver on the more sophisticated elements of what Microsoft is promising at the price they’re aiming for.”

While not admitting that Nintendo had looked at this particular tech before, Reggie Fils-Aime stated back in June that Nintendo was “very familiar with that technology” and that he had “personally seen a lot of iterations of similar technology”.

Microsoft, though, has maintained that the tech for Natal was built “in-house”, despite the purchase of 3DV being confirmed back in June 2009.

Natal’s expected this year for around £50.



  1. Michael O’Connor

    Cheap attempt at insulting the competition.

    Grow the fuck up Nintendo. You’re treated as a joke nowadays… you don’t need to make your image any worse than it already is, to be honest.

    #1 5 years ago
  2. Alakratt

    LOL!! A jab at MS? This is a post for…. O’Connor to the rescue!!!

    #2 5 years ago
  3. Psychotext

    I’ve seen this a couple of times today… the strange thing is, he said it back when Natal was announced.

    #3 5 years ago
  4. zoopdeloop

    Microsoft uses Nintendo rejection project…interesting

    #4 5 years ago
  5. Michael O’Connor

    “LOL!! A jab at MS? This is a post for…. O’Connor to the rescue!!!”


    #5 5 years ago
  6. onlineatron


    Yeah, I remember that too.

    I think it may have been Miyamoto though.

    #6 5 years ago
  7. NiceFellow

    Isn’t this just a re-report (perhaps with a little more depth) of Nintendo’s initial reaction to Natal?

    Given MS removed chip from Natal to lower costs it sounds like they made the right decision for the Wii. This doesn’t mean Natal won’t work fine on 360, but looking at Wii specs, it would have been problematic for Nintendo to do something similar to lower the price and pass the processing to the Wii.

    I am getting worried that there are so many semi-credible hints of real latency problems with Natal though. MS still have plenty of time to work on it of course, but there’s just a little too much smoke around both the cost and latency elements – although it looks like MS found a fairly direct way to address the cost one.

    #7 5 years ago
  8. SlayerGT

    So I’ve heard you can’t play Natal in the dark…anyone else hear this?

    #8 5 years ago
  9. zoopdeloop

    Microsoft…work???that’s a good one

    #9 5 years ago
  10. manamana

    Nah GT, i don’t think so since it’s got infrared built in.
    But the latency problems might be bigger. No video of natal where it’s not clearly visible (not the advertised livingroom ones) …

    And thinking of that, nintendo has latency issues even with the original wiimote.

    #10 5 years ago
  11. NoxNoctisUmbra

    Because Nintendo knew that NATAL will be a big FLOP, hard core players really need to hold something in their hand, as well they really need to push buttons.

    #11 5 years ago
  12. Michael O’Connor

    Still curious what that remark was meant to imply. *twiddles thumbs*

    #12 5 years ago
  13. manamana

    Ok, Nox.
    But what if you hold a Rifle and can point and shoot?
    With heavy force feedback?
    And reload with a gesture (like putting Ammo in)?
    And leaning to the site is strafing and forward-lean forward?

    Not that i would play a hole Halo-Session like this.
    And thinking of that, it could be fun for 15 minutes …

    But besides that it’s something to push buttons ;-)

    #13 5 years ago
  14. Bringit

    Real old news. Nintendo said it all at E3.

    #14 5 years ago
  15. itsucks

    It’s really normal that Nintendo makes this crap up to justify their choices when the heat of Natal ir burning their backs, it follows their way of printing money. How could they make such an innovative concept that would cost 1 dollar to produce, and sell it for 100, like they do with gamecube 2.0 aka Wii, for 70 bucks and sell for 200?

    At least they recognise it and went their own way. Not like Copy-cat Phony who copies and fails at everthing, lol: Wiimote -> Failaxis, Motion+-> Gem…CrARCp, Rumble… ah, it’s a last gen feature you don’t need it, Oops DualSh*t3, now you need it b/c we say so and we don’t apologise for our own fuck ups = lol.

    Backwards Compaiblity…? It only does All…most, well … yhea.

    May the YLOD Keep blinking on your pooshittytrii.

    #15 5 years ago
  16. Spaced Oddity

    lol @ itsucks, poster boy for the illiterate fanboy.

    Having donned my rubber gloves to dig through his textual diarrhea, I’ve come to the conclusion he/she/it feels this Project Natal is innovative and fully functional, though its uses have already been done in the past by the one you so eloquently call Phony (facial recognition as well as camera scanning 3D objects in hand, 2D objects on paper, just to name a few). Sadly, Nintendo’s criticisms still hold up many months later as Natal’s issues, specifically latency, still exist. Now Microsoft has removed the on-board processor and given the burden to the 360 itself (allegedly requiring 20% of the processing power). How would this decision improve the glaring latency issues? Also, if it requires 20% of the processing power, how would it be practical for larger, processor tasking titles? At this point, it’s riding strong with Microsoft’s talent at marketting and the media hype machine, but it still has everything to prove.
    I’m an old-school gamer and am perfectly content with playing my games with a controller, but if Natal actually gets off the ground and finds a practical use that can change my favorite hobby for the better, I’m all for it. Still, with that said, right now it’s only an interesting concept with hardly anything to show for it.

    #16 5 years ago
  17. DarkElfa

    Bah, what it comes down to is that the Wii isn’t powerful enough to run it.

    #17 5 years ago
  18. OrphanageExplosion

    Only one problem with this report – the 3DV tech *isn’t* in Natal. It was bought up by MS to get hold of patents 3DV owned.

    The actual optics in the camera come from another Israeli firm – PrimeSense.

    So basically Nintendo saw *a* time-of-flight 3D camera, but they didn’t see Natal.

    #18 5 years ago
  19. bugmenot

    @spaced oddity
    i seem to remember reading a developer source claiming the chip removal would have no adverse effects on latency. The lag it seems is native to the device itself. The lag is by no means massive.
    The issue IMHO is this:
    for a joypad: where the arc you trace moving full deflection to full deflection(circa <2") on an analogue stick or indeed from rest to full depressed on an analogue button(3mm) is tiny compared with the broad movements in 3d space you are expected to make with natal. This means the number of discrete points the movement can be tracked in a given time period are further apart than on a traditional controller. Given natal tracks movement 30 times a second is the main reason i think for natals lack of precision-30 hz doesnt cut it for broad movements in 3d space.

    #19 5 years ago
  20. Blerk

    OrphanageExplosion is right – Microsoft bought up 3DV but still insist that Natal was their own solution. Which sounds a bit suspicious but they could just have made a pre-emptive strike on 3DV to stop them filing a patent lawsuit sometime in the future. :-)

    #20 5 years ago
  21. natesaninja

    We were goin to make the wii awesome but instead wii just made it fuckin suck is what it means they already said the wii remote was just an add on that didnt make it onto the gamecube

    #21 5 years ago
  22. Gheritt White

    X360 fanboys are going to be bitterly disappointed when Natal launches. Natal has not and won’t be designed for core gamers – we are not its audience and therefore the experiences it offers will not appeal to us. If you’re the type that roots for a corporation then maybe this is good news; but I can’t see proper gamers receiving Natal with anything other than a big “meh”.

    Secondly, Iwata-san is right on the mark. MS has gimped their camera to reduce the retail price point, plus input lag and lack of precision will limit the experiences that can be designed for the camera.

    That said, I’m very interested to see how MS do E3 this year. They won’t want to alienate their core audience, but how will they attract pre-teen/female/grey gamers without doing so? It’s a precarious balancing act.

    No doubt Natal will sell gangbusters at launch, but will those sales be secured by anything other than MS’ marketing spend? Time will tell.

    #22 5 years ago
  23. Blerk

    I’m somehow thinking that most current 360 owners know exactly what to expect from Natal – nothing of interest whatsoever.

    #23 5 years ago
  24. Psychotext

    “MS has gimped their camera to reduce the retail price point”

    I don’t think gimped is the right word. It’s still capable of everything it was previously capable of, just that the skeletal tracking system has moved from onboard processing to console based processing.

    In reality that just means that you wont see Natal added to existing games… but then no-one wanted that anyway.

    #24 5 years ago

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