The Wii is one of the best-selling consoles of all time, utterly smashing both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but both Sony and Microsoft turned up their noses at its motion controller tech.
In a feature article on CVG, original patent holder Tom Quinn described meetings with Microsoft and Sony in which both companies showed disdain for his gyroscopic motion control ideas.
“The meeting went terribly. The attitude I got from them was that if they wanted to do motion control, they would do it themselves and make a better job of it. I mean, they were just rude,” he said of his pitch to Microsoft.
“In fact, the meeting went so terribly that one of the executives came over to me afterwards and apologised on behalf of others. I remember him saying how this was not how Microsoft should be engaging with potential partners.”
At Sony, Quinn met with legendary engineer Ken Kutaragi, who also failed to realise the tech’s significance.
We were in a tiny little room with a big PC projector and Kutaragi comes in, introduces himself, sits down and – I swear this is true – he closed his eyes the moment I started showing my pitch. He never opened them until I had finished.
“Kutaragi comes in, introduces himself, sits down and – I swear this is true – he closed his eyes the moment I started showing my pitch,” Quinn revealed.
“It was awkward, very awkward, but I still asked him for feedback and he said, ‘well, can you produce this for 50 cents?’ I laughed and explained that would be impossible, so again I left empty handed.”
At the time, as the GameCube was a distinct third in the console arms race.
“You have to remember that Sony and Microsoft were by far the two biggest console manufacturers. Nintendo wasn’t doing well and we hadn’t thought much about them,” Quinn said.
But he went to meet the team anyway, and in a dramatic meeting led by chairman Atsushi Asada, Nintendo decided to sign a deal with Quinn, eventually leading both to the Wii and even to the DS, both runaway successes.
“Looking back at the whole thing, it’s crazy how blind Sony and Microsoft were,” Quinn says.
“They were busy beating the crap out of each other and didn’t consider Nintendo a strong competitor any more.”
The full feature is a fascinating look at the inner workings of the big N over the past decade; if you have the time, hit the link above.
As you’re probably aware, Nintendo has released two more consoles since the Wii – the 3DS and as of Sunday in the US, the Wii U.