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April 8, 2008 // 4:34 pm - What would it be like if you could combine the best of an Xbox 360 and the best of the Nintendo Wii? Gamers may soon find out if the latest rumors are true.

Citing anonymous sources, MTV News reported Microsoft will soon launch a Wii controller clone for the Xbox 360. It's part of a reported strategy to cash in on Nintendo's market differentiation.

"[Microsoft] marketing just want it so they can match the Wii point for point," MTV's source said. "The biggest parts of their marketing materials outline how easy it would be for third parties to port their Wii games to the 360."

Microsoft's Avatar Concept

According to MTV, the controller isn't much different in functionality or design from Nintendo's Wii remote, but comes with four face buttons, an analog stick and a microphone. There are also plans for the controller to interact with the Xbox Live Vision Camera, the source said.

In addition to designing the interface for the controller, Rare, the Microsoft-owned studio that developed Perfect Dark Zero, has also fleshed out Microsoft's take on Nintendo's Mii avatars, the source said.

Microsoft's Miis are designed to be associated with any game that incorporates the controller and create a standard look for the games. The avatars aren't tied to a controller when in use, as Xbox Live profiles currently are, MTV reported. Microsoft is reportedly hoping to release the controller before the end of the year, despite development delays.

Testing Gaming Theories

Yankee Group analyst Mike Goodman said a Wii-like controller seems like a good idea for Microsoft. To Nintendo's credit, he said, the Japanese firm identified a market need and exploited it. The Wii controller is indeed Nintendo's differentiator, making it easier for a novice or a nongamer to play games, Goodman said.

"If Microsoft develops a controller like this, it will test a couple of theories," he said. "Microsoft has done a good job in positioning itself for casual gamers. In some ways Microsoft has a better lineup for casual gamers than Wii does. Theoretically, the drawback has always been the input device. You've had to use the traditional game controller. It will be interesting to see, if Microsoft does roll out this controller, if it improves the value proposition for the casual market."

For the core market, the Wii remote controller does not work as well as the traditional game pad, Goodman said. Nintendo's Wii has done well with games like Wii Sports, but has not performed as well with traditional games like Madden and other third-party titles.

"This controller would be giving consumers an option for what they want to use," Goodman said. "But it sets up an interesting proposition for developers, because now the question becomes which input device do you develop for?"

New Xbox 360 Controller May Poach Nintendo's Wii Market

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