So, the much vaunted Playstation Move was finally unveiled this month at the GDC conference in San Francisco, and Sony are hailing it, somewhat unexpectedly, as the ‘next generation of motion gaming’. The question is, however, is it little more than a Wii wannabe, and Sony’s attempt to muscle on the market that them bods at Nintendo have cornered so well?
The answer, it would appear at this early juncture (its not actually released until the Autumn in America), is pretty much a yes. But then it was always going to be and, at the end of the day, why shouldn’t they? Compatible for the PS3, and available at launch as a bundle with game and the Playstation Eye camera-more on that later- for around 100 $ it seems to offer a viable alternative for the hardcore Sony gamers who can’t bear to move to Nintendo or Microsoft (who are releasing a similar gizmo, the Natal, later this year).
The device itself is not unlike the Wii, with a controller and and a second sub-controller for navigating characters around gaming environments. Visually the most striking aspect of the controller is the blue rubber ball that sits on the end- the lighting up of which the Playstation Eye catches, and captures the players position. The Eye, essentially a camera that you pop on your TV, ‘detects the precise movement, angle, and absolute position in 3D space’ of the gamer, and in conjunction with the controller allows the user ‘intuitively play the game as if they themselves are within the game.’ The Eye, in certain games, will also film you, and project your image onto characters as a means of increasing the level of immersion with the games.
Reaction to the device in the notoriously harsh gaming world has been somewhat muted; from reading forums and talking to gamers who already own the PS3, there seems to be an air of cynicism about the device. Wii lovers see it as nothing other than a copycat, trying to nab the attentions of those uninterested in the family/casual gaming ethos that Nintendo has fostered so well. A lot of Sony devotees, who revel in the complex and made-for-adult games put out by the Japanese company, seem to view it as a sign of Sony dumbing down their product. Of course, the proof is in the pudding and if Sony can bring out the games to appeal to this demographic then all will be swiftly forgiven. Sony says there will be 20 games released on the platform in 2010 with deals and support in place from 36 publishers and developers, so this clearly anything but a gimmick for Sony, but a concerted attempt by them to both prolong the lifespan of the PS3, and to enter the lucrative world of motion gaming. Roll on Autumn.