The Xbox 360 got Kinect, the PS3 got Move, and the main peripheral that adds new gaming controls to the Wii is the uDraw tablet. But unlike the latter offerings, uDraw came from a third-party company. A struggling one. And it looks like it may have found gold.
The Wii faces a very tough year ahead, not the least of which is its growing sense of being outdated among the more "future-proof" PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles. But the biggest deal moving forward is that motion controlling is no longer exclusive to the Wii. Game franchises that were previously Wii exclusive are now heading to Kinect and Move, and Nintendo's novelty is going to wear off quickly.
However, THQ's new gadget lets players interact with Wii games in a whole new way - by drawing. The interactive controller comes with a stylus pen, allowing players to engage in digital painting programs, compete in rounds of Pictionary, and explore more traditional games in a very non-traditional way.
It costs $70, and any time there's an accessory that expensive it is a huge risk. But it seems to be paying off for THQ.
The publisher's stock price has jumped by more than 8% after the introduction of uDraw. In addition to making Nintendo happy that there's something new to invigorate its console, THQ is no doubt smiling. The publisher usually focuses on low-budget licensed games, like Nickelodeon and WWE, and tries to turn a profit from the name recognition. But that business model has been proving to be a faulty one.
The uDraw hit at the right time, because it's getting lumped in with the Move and Kinect hysteria, although admittedly to a smaller extent. But the Wii already has a much higher installed base than either of its competitors, and if something can just get in an ounce of novelty to keep it relevant, it wins.
Check out our previous coverage of uDraw and see why it made our pick of must-have holiday gifts.