Nintendo Coming Up with Fix for Wii U Motion Sensor Issue

While testing out the Wii U with Nintendo’s Nintendo Land Ninja Star game, Kotaku editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo discovered that the Wii U GamePad had a motion sensing problem. Essentially, after a bit of playtime, the GamePad’s sensors will lose track of the TV it’s being used with and will need to be recalibrated.

Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto has acknowledged the issue with the GamePad. The GamePad’s sensor issue is a result of the fact that it doesn’t have a sensor that detects the sensor bar ordinarily placed at the top of the TV when playing the Wii or the Wii U. Thus, the sensor issue doesn’t run over to the Wii Remote.

For now, Nintendo’s either going to have to design games that doesn’t require the GamePad’s sensors to be pointed at the screen, add better sensors, or add the same sensor that’s in the Wii onto the GamePad. Miyamoto’s answer at Totilo’s suggestion of better sensors on the GamePad was, "Of course, in terms of the cost of goods, if there comes a time further down the road where you're able to get much more precise sensors and you're able to bring those in at a cost that is not too expensive, there might be an opportunity to improve that," he said. "But what we're doing [now] is we're looking at ... bringing in the best technology we can within a cost that's affordable. The rest of it is on us to ensure in the software that we're programming it in such a way to adapt for that."

It looks like the “fix” that Nintendo has in mind for now is to make games and software that adapt to the issue. Cost for the Wii U is an important factor to keep in mind, especially because the Wii U will be competing with the already-lowered prices of the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Putting better sensors on the Wii U GamePad might not be a viable option now, considering the costs, but it looks like it’s definitely something that Nintendo will look into for the future.

Catherine Cai is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Tom's Guide, Tom's Hardware, VG 24/7, RipTen, and The Game Fanatics. She has also worked as a lead producer for video game projects, a manager and lighting director for the stage, and a software engineer. Currently, she works as a Production Engineering Manager for Shopify.

  • kinggraves
    This more than anything so far makes me doubt Nintendo's true understanding of their situation. I do not want another "Wii Motion Plus". If it doesn't work like it's supposed to out of the box, it isn't a feature that your device has. As far as I'm concerned, the Wiimote's real issue was how difficult it was to properly point with the way their sensor worked. It could have been better than auto aim, if my targeting didn't fly wildly off screen every time I left the sensor's limited range. Even light guns worked better than that.

    Of course, that was the WiiMote's primary function. This is mainly supposed to be a second screen for gameplay usage. I can't say I'm too concerned with a factor I didn't like in the Wii gameplay now not being a factor in the Wii U gameplay. I'm sure this is disappointing news to some, and rather arrogant to say they will just program around it. Nintendo needs to remember their are OTHER people that develop games, and their support is also necessary to succeed. I can appreciate the honesty though. Sony probably would've just promised the feature and when it didn't work, shrugged it off and said it's no longer a feature.

    But really... how much more would the better sensor cost? I wouldn't mind paying an extra 10 if the feature is built into the controller, but I don't like playing to have to stick some extra dongle in a port just to get slightly better functionality.
  • aftcomet
    Looks like it's off to a great start with a solution that's not really a solution.
    NES was cool...and still is IMO. Don't care for Nintendo's new toys.
  • notuptome2004
    umm the Wii U has a Sensor bar connected to it just like the Wii but it is highly larger more inside it so i dont see how ther was an issue unless the demo on that TV did not have the sensor bar connected or it was knocked down
  • You need to learn how to read. The pad itself has no sensor that interacts with the ir sensor bar like the wiimotes do.

    I noticed this at E3, too. It would be a good idea to include it prior to shipping, but it's probably too late in production.
  • dormantreign
    I don't intend on buying games that make me flail my hands/arms around. Just want that pro controller and a zelda game.
  • amabhy
    This is something apple would do- have a flaw and then say "you're playing it wrong" or "you're designing games wrong". Dangerous road to go down, nintendo...
  • slabbo
    well, they admitted the problem and as long as the fix works that's fine with me. I could careless what's in the controller or in the software as long as it works seamlessly.
  • beoza
    amabhyThis is something apple would do- have a flaw and then say "you're playing it wrong" or "you're designing games wrong". Dangerous road to go down, nintendo...
    That isn't the issue at all. Nintendo admitted there is an problem, how many other companies have you heard of in recent years admitting there is an issue with software or hardware and actually coming up with a solution to the problem? Sure it's not a perfect fix like adding better sensors but at least is some kind of a solution to the problem. They can send out the info to all game devs who can incorporate the fix into their games before users actually get their hands on them. Would you rather have had them ignore the issue then have a huge backlash from buyers because of this issue? Or would you rather have them admit to it now so that when the console and games ship the fix is in place? I'm not a fanboy, Ive owned most of the consoles out there since I was 6yrs old in the late 70's. I would much rather have them find the issue now and get the games fixed with a work around solution, than after it's release. All software/hardware can and usually does have problems on release, nothing is perfect but with future revisions and hardware price drops they can add better sensors later. This is definitely good PR for Nintendo.
  • How is this good PR for Nintendo? They just admitted they are using cheap parts that they know cause problems in order to keep the price down. What other cheap parts did they use? What future problems will the Wii U have?

    It isn't good PR to say "we know we are going to be selling a flawed product, but hey, we had to save money, and you can just learn to live with it."