Report: Nintendo Turned Down Natal Tech In 2007

By Ishaan . January 26, 2010 . 2:26pm


According to a report at European site Computer and Videogames, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata was privy to the technology behind Microsoft’s Natal in 2007 — well before his company’s competitor announced their own version of the device — and turned down adopting it as part of the Wii hardware due to perceived cost issues.


“[Developer] 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,” an inside source at Nintendo told the site.


CVG’s report would lend credence to recent rumours that Microsoft were forced to remove a processing chip from Natal and opt for a cheaper, allegedly less effective software solution to process the visual data received by the device in order to maintain a consumer-friendly price point.


“What we witnessed at E3 was smaller and the facial [reading] stuff had improved, but it’s the same technology,” CVG’s source confirmed. “We remain unconvinced Natal will deliver on the more sophisticated elements of what Microsoft is promising at the price they’re aiming for.”


Shortly after Natal’s reveal at E3 2009, Nintendo managing director Shigeru Miyamoto said to Game|Life in an interview: “I’m sure you’re aware, but obviously this type of motion-sensing camera technology has been around for quite a while. Over the years we’ve looked at a variety of different technologies and seen what could be done with that, and ultimately made the decision not to take advantage of what they can do.”


Natal is scheduled for launch in the Fall of 2010.

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  • daizyujin

    Iwata talking sh*t about the competition, never would have seen that coming.

  • Chow

    HE had worries about latency during gameplay? Really?
    (Yes, I’m complaining about waggle again, but not the infared pointer)

  • kupomogli

    Nintendo being as greedy as they are might actually lose some money for each Wii sold if they chose to use the Natal? Oh noes. This right here just goes to show why I hate Nintendo as a company.

    I love the DS btw. Third party support ftw.

  • Tokyo Guy

    I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Nintendo later eats these words. I mean wasn’t it also Iwata who claimed that Nintendo had no interest in DLC and online gaming? And lo and behold look at what exists now.

    As a general rule, PR is best left for PR specialists who know what to say rather than for corporate presidents who may or may not have the best grasp on the industry at large. I would add the MS employee who claimed that the XBox 360 launch was a total success in Japan (who was he again?).

    I don’t know, it just seems like half the time when Iwata speaks, he doesn’t really know what he is saying.

    • It’s interesting you say that because I kind of hold the opposite opinion. I feel like Iwata has the best read on the industry as a whole when it comes to deciding on a balance of services and still maintaining his company’s bottom line.

      Somehow, I prefer when someone like Iwata who has his fingers in several different pies takes the stage as opposed to the regular PR people. I mean, Reggie clearly doesn’t have much to offer in that regard. I think people tend to take Iwata more seriously than Reggie, too, since it’s blatantly obvious that NOA usually aren’t clued in about a lot of things.

      • malek86

        I too think Iwata is a much better PR guy than Reggie, who is pretty much just there because of his image and doesn’t actually know jack.However, I also believe Iwata is a bit behind with the times. It seems to be working for them right now, but who knows what the future holds. There is no doubt online will eventually become the most important feature of a game, though how long it will take is anyone’s guess. I want to see if they can hold the market for long. From what I know, the entertainment market is extremely difficult and unpredictable, and few companies have managed to hold the lead in their sector for long.

        • My personal theory is that they’ve used these past few years to pull themselves out of the red, and going forward, they can actually afford to be a little less conservative. Of course, given that they’re a very Japanese company, I don’t imagine them going crazy with their investments the way Microsoft sometimes tend to do.

          That said, everyone’s seen the story about how the R&D budget jumped from 30 to 100 million. I think the time Iwata’s vision comes across is during the investor meetings. He certainly seems more “in tune” with the overall market than Miyamoto, so 2010 and beyond is going to be interesting…

      • Tokyo Guy

        Hmm, I think my problem with Iwata is that he often doesn’t know what he is suppose to be saying or answering, so the company later has to backtrack and recant his words. It seems unprofessional to me. There was something he said many years ago that was flat out untrue, and then Reggie said the exact opposite and then Iwata had to correct himself at a later time. I think it was a TGS or E3 from a few years back, maybe before the Wii released?

        I don’t know, part of it might also be my relative annoyance at how traditional Japanese companies work: they don’t fire people but instead promote them so long as people keep in line and do what they are told. Now I’m not saying Iwata should be fired or anything like that, but I do question to some degree how intelligent it was to have made him President. Of course based on sales and revenue it was a good decision and in the financial world that is all that matters.

        As for Reggie, I don’t care for him at all. I can’t stand his attitude and the way in which fanboys latch onto him like some kind of deity/holy savior. He is just someone with a big mouth who likes to talk ****.

        I think that if Nintendo wasn’t suddenly doing well then there would be problems with both Iwata and Reggie.

        Though it really makes you wonder just what Nintendo plans to do next; it’s becoming more and more clear that the Wii is starting to sputter given the declining sales and Nintendo’s more vocal talk about HD.

        • Well, all the statements being retracted of late are primarily due to some sort of phobia on the part of Nintendo of America it seems. I think it’s uncoordinated, yes, but I also think when the president of a company says something, you don’t pretend it’s untrue. That just makes NOA look uninformed, rather than Iwata not knowing what he’s saying. I think he understands that there’s a point beyond which “PR talk” doesn’t cut it, which is what NOA fail to realize.

          As for making him president, as far as I can tell, he’s doing a better job than any Yamauchi ever did, and I don’t mean financially. He’s making an attempt to improve third-party relations, we’re (or at least Japan are) finally getting budget titles, and there’s more [quality] western development happening. I feel like he understands how to make the most of his company’s resources.

  • thebanditking

    Whoever thinks Nintendo is going to regret turning this down is delusional or really sipping the Kool-aid too much. Natal is going to fail, and hard from the stuff I have seen so far. The tech looks wonky, and shares the same flaws as the Eye Toy for the PS2. Sure it will work better then that but I still see the same problems. For one everytime they show it off its always in a controlled inviroment (a white room for example) which is set up to compensate for the inherent weaknesses this tech has. Which is the inability to recognize/detect in a busy/cluttered inviroment. The Eye Toy was just like this, you had to have optimal lighting and be in a small room (the camera doesnt work as well with depth behind you) or have a white back drop so the camera can actually pick up your movements. The E3 stage demo is what to expect from this, the camera will work roughly 40 to 60% of the time but the on screen motions will suffer from latency and all ways look a little spastic.Also the biggest reasons the hype was generated for this device was milo, which by now I think everyone realizes is all smoke and mirrors (proven by the closed door sessions which only allowed for controlled questions to be asked). So what exactly is there to be so excited about here? Also the focus shift MS is trying to make right now could come back to bite them. Nintendo decided from day one their diehard fans were not their target audience but MS is trying to shift demographics mid life cycle. Sure they say there will be great cames for the regular gamer but come one people Nintendo said the same thing, they need the 360 fanboys to pick this up to give it a big initial push so it can garner attention and then when the fitness games and shovelware hit you will be left with a paper weight.

  • crunc

    Keep in mind that Nintendo rejected this tech when the Wii was being developed. I have no doubt that they made the right decision then. Whether or not it would be the right decision today, given improvements in tech and lower costs, well we’ll find that out, hopefully, later this year. I’ve got some skepticism due to my experience with EyeToy (a tech which I was never able to get working in my house, not even remotely), but I’m sure this works better then that. I’m hopeful that it does work as it looks like it could make for some fun games. In any case, it’s pretty clear that the prospect of Natal on the 360 has not had any impact on the Wii so far.

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