Bad Times for Big Plastic Video Game Peripherals

By  |  Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 12:42 pm

While Kinect for Xbox 360 and the Playstation Move are doing pretty well, games that rely on additional space-consuming controllers are feeling the squeeze.

The latest victim is Activision’s Tony Hawk: Shred, a game that uses a skateboard-shaped controller that you stand on like the real thing. In its first week, Shred sold only 3,000 units in the United States according to The NPD Group, Gamasutra reports. Shred’s predecessor, Tony Hawk: Ride, was a flop last year, but that game at least managed to top 100,000 units in its first month, a feat that seems unlikely for Shred.

Activision’s also taking a hit with DJ Hero 2, which sold 59,000 copies last month. The original DJ Hero did twice as well in its first month last year, and was still considered a flop. Consider also that Viacom is looking to sell Rock Band creator Harmonix, or that Nintendo isn’t doing anything new with Wii Fit this year, and the case against video games with big plastic peripherals is a strong one.

My hunch is that whatever budget people might’ve allowed for peripheral games, they’re spending on the new PS3 and Xbox 360 motion controllers instead. Peripherals aren’t cheap — $40 extra for the Shred controller, same for DJ Hero 2, $70 extra for Rock Band 3’s keyboard controller — and they aren’t versatile, either. Once you’ve played the game or series of games for which they’re designed, that’s it. The latest motion controllers, by comparison, provide a variety of games without taking up a lot of extra space.

I’m sure there are other factors hurting video game peripherals as well. Gaming as a whole is doing only a little better than last year, Gamasutra reports, and worse than analysts were hoping to see. And music games like Guitar Hero, which were a major driver of special controllers, are looking more like a fad than an institution.

For all we know, Kinect for Xbox 360 and the Playstation Move could fizzle out over the next couple years, but for now, they’re hogging the spotlight that Guitar Hero and other peripherals once enjoyed.

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