I wrote this a few years ago. Of course, it either fell on deaf ears or more likely, was relegated to junk email abyss. Still, I think it was one of my superior harebrained schemes. More mockup pics of the concept is at the end.
Originally Written May 30th, 2008
SEGA of America
650 Townsend Street
I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation during Apple’s last town hall event and have been a long time SEGA fan. These reasons coupled with what I view as a tremendous opportunity is the reason I have taken the time to reach out to SEGA.
What if you could make a handheld system that could eat into the Nintendo DS market by making what is essentially only a controller?
Imagine that. A fraction of the cost and you would have your own portable system more powerful than Nintendo’s DS, and rivaling Sony’s PSP, by only making an accessory.
Imagine selling ‘old games’, for ‘new money’ on a console that is your own, and cost you only the cost of the controller to build.
I was blown away by the demonstration of “Super Monkey Ball” during Apple Inc’s March 6th SDK event. It also made me think iPhone could support “Virtua Fighter,” not a cell phone “Virtua Fighter” but the real game. The challenge of course, is there is much more to controlling a fighting game and you would absolutely need some analog controls. Analog controls coupled with a multi-axis accelerometer would be utterly amazing for controlling a fighting or first person game. Imagine tilting the system to strafe, but still having a real button to fire. All this in a Hand held system would put that system miles above the competition.
It is only a matter of time before Nintendo figures this out, and produces a portable version of their ‘Wii’, or ‘pWii’ (catchy right?)
SEGA can beat them to market with a next generation hand held system, by actually not making a system a full-fledged system. In fact you can make a portable Wii, using already established relationships, old games, an already installed base customer base, minimal marketing costs, and of course very, very little money.
I carry an iPod Touch, a cell phone (waiting for the 3G iPhone), and a PSP, plus UMDs when I travel. I need my iPod for media and I need my PSP for games, real games, not cell phone games. If I could play real games on my iPod, or cell phone my PSP would have disappeared ages ago. I am sure I am not alone.
This is where opportunity presents itself.
The ‘iCU’ or iPhone/iPod Control Unit (pronounced ‘eye-see-you,’name subject change of course), will be a case, video game controller, and extended battery for the iPhone/iPod Touch device. The stated devices will be fully enclosed in the iCU, and interface through the serial port at the bottom of either device. The controller can work with SEGA games only through some proprietary software or it can be open to other developers. There can even be a third option where a developer wishing to make a game compatible with the iCU would pay a very small licensing fee to SEGA, to allow their game to be controlled by the iCU.
What the iCU will not be, is a programmable video game controller, as all of these devices seem to fail. Every game played using the iCU will be as if you fired up any game on any other portable system with all the keys assigned and worry free play.
In addition, the device will offer full protection to the device enclosed without limiting access to any of the devices enclosed features. You will still be able to use the camera and in the case of the iPhone, even answer a quick phone call.
This product is a very real possibility, and I would love to work with SEGA in bringing it to fruition. There is a market waiting. I have enclosed the initial product renderings of the iCU and would love to arrange a conference call with [SEGA] regarding said product.
I do understand that it is quite unusual to be contacted by someone whom you do not know, asking to work and speak with you. Yet you must admit, it is not everyday a great idea comes knocking at your door, and very few things a truly synergistic. When a great synergistic Idea comes knocking at your door, it deserves at the very least a quick look through the ‘guard chain.’
Except for some necessary measures taken to protect ones idea, I have not shared this with anyone and I do realize sending this to you puts my work at great risk. I ask that you share this document with as few people as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
If I remember correctly, I may have also sent this to engadget.com, thisismynext.com, or theverge.com once as a writing sample; Who can keep up with Topolsky's, whereabouts?