Leap TV

The Wii was the first home console to successfully bring motion controls to the mainstream market, capturing the attention of consumers and selling over 100 million units. It naturally led to the arrival of motion controlled rivals, whether directly mimicking the Nintendo setup in the form of PlayStation Move or Microsoft's attempt at controller-free gaming with the Kinect.

As a craze it's certainly died away, however. The Wii U's focus is on combining motion controls with the various capabilities of the GamePad, Sony's Move is almost an irrelevance and Microsoft has reversed course from making Kinect 2.0 mandatory with Xbox One, to releasing a less expensive SKU without the accessory. The public's appetite for motion controls has dissipated.

That doesn't worry LeapFrog, however, the company that is best known for its range of tablet devices designed for young children. Experienced in producing gadgets with apps and features for 3-8 years olds, the company has nevertheless seen demand for its tablets slide, along with it share prices. Its response for the upcoming Holiday season is the LeapTV, its attempt at a game console for that young audience. It seems to blend ideas from the Wii — with motion controllers — and aspects of Kinect utilising the camera.

It should be clear that this is very much being branded as a home console experience — the system will cost $150 / £119.99, and there'll be games (including some with Disney brands such as Sofia the First) that'll sell for around $30. As a result it demands a fairly substantial investment from parents while, arguably, greater quality games can be picked up for less with a last-gen Wii; LeapFrog's angle is a focus on games with educational aspects, however.

Nintendo has recently emphasized that kids are an important demographic, and naturally LeapTV is a potential challenger ahead of the frantic Holiday shopping season. It seems unlikely that this LeapFrog console will have much impact on Nintendo's market, though the success of the company's tablet devices means it shouldn't be disregarded.

Whether LeapTV is mistakenly plugging motion controls after the craze is long over, however, will be for shoppers to decide.

[source bloomberg.com]