Both Sony and Microsoft Passed On What Would Become The Wii's Killer App

And you just know that they've both been kicking themselves ever since.

by on 19th Nov, 2012

With so much talk going on right now about Nintendo's latest console, let's talk a bit about its successor. Starting with a question: the gyroscopic motion control that was the heart and soul of the original Wii: was it created by Nintendo themselves?

Nope. It was actually invented by some guy American named Tom Quinn.

ComputersAndVideoGames recently did an expose of the man and it's a fascinating read. Though the most interesting part is how he first approached Microsoft and Sony well before hitting up Nintendo. They both had the chance to nab what would be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the world of video games. And they passed.

Quinn developed the technology for many years and was finally awarded a patent in 1999. Two years later, he decided to approach video game makers, to see if they might be interested in buying in. First up was Microsoft, a relative new player to the space, who had just launched their first console, the original Xbox.

After a very promising pitch session with CEO Steve Ballmer, Quin met with the Xbox team. Unfortunately, things didn't go so well:

"… 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. In fact, the meeting went so terribly that one of the executives came over to me afterwards and apologized on behalf of others. I remember him saying how this was not how Microsoft should be engaging with potential partners."

Next was a meeting with Sony, with the father of the PlayStation himself, Ken Kutaragi. It too went poorly. 

"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.

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 and, to be honest, that time it got to me. I felt pretty let down."

Afterward, Quinn met with Nintendo, who at the time was third place, thanks to the GameCube failing to light the world on fire. Which might have been a reason why that third and final meeting went so well; by the end, it was decided that they would license the patents for motion control, and even purchase some of Quinn's company.

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