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A missed chance for Xbox: Microsoft could have blocked the sale of the Wii

Key motion control company originally offered license to Xbox team

CVG's Rob Crossley has just published a devastatingly good write-up of the Wii's creation, success and slow decline, drawing on exclusive comment from the likes of former Nintendo of America head George Harrison. No, not as in My Sweet Lord. Why should you, Xbox-obsessed to the point of insanity, care? Because in the process he's turned up some interesting information about the origin of motion control gaming in general, and in particular, Microsoft's access to the same.

Nintendo owes much of its good fortune with the Wii to Tom Quinn, founder of Gyration and the owner of a worldwide patent on gyrometer-based motion control technology. Quinn licensed his tech to the Mario maker in 2001, thereby handing it the "exclusive rights to application of inertial sensors in a product which senses angular human motion in order to control a graphic or cursor on a display."


Nintendo wasn't Gyration's first port of call, however - Quinn's original pitch went to Microsoft. "Through my business connections, the first games person I got in touch with was [current Microsoft CEO] Steve Ballmer," he told CVG. "I pitched this motion control device to him and he loved it. He set me up with the Xbox team in Redmond [Washington] for a second pitch and I remember how incredibly excited I was about it. Things were happening so fast.

"But the meeting went terribly," Quinn reflected. "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 apologised on behalf of others. I remember him saying how this was not how Microsoft should be engaging with potential partners."

Indeed not. Had Microsoft bought a license for Gyration's technology on the same terms as Nintendo, the Wii might never have existed, or at least not as we know it. Question for the thread: what would current generation gaming be like without the Wii?