Sony makes its Move into motion control

Sony has unveiled its answer to the Wiimote and Project Natal: a motion control system named Move.

The company hasn’t confirmed a release date or a standalone price yet. However, it says there will be a bundle deal with one controller, a Playstation Eye camera (which is needed to receive the control signals) and one game for under $100.

It’ll be very interesting to see which game is offered in the bundle deal. This is a different situation when compared to the Wii, where the motion control was the main selling point of the entire console and people were buying the whole system from scratch. With so many gamers already owning a PS3 (or having another console and thus being unlikely to buy a PS3 as well), it’s likely the main market for the motion control system is going to be existing users.

That means the game in the bundle is going to have to be a strong sell in itself if Sony wants to sell many Move controllers. If it isn’t, many would-be buyers may put it off until there’s a strong range of quality new games specifically written for motion control, which may not be until the end of this year at the earliest. There has been talk of retrospectively introducing motion control into some existing games, though only time will tell if that is effective or comes across as a clumsy gimmick.

As pictured, the most distinguishing feature is the orb at the top. This beams light to the Eye camera, allowing the system to calculate the distance and thus allow three-dimensional control. The orb can glow in different colors, allowing the system to recognize multiple controllers, and can also be used for visual effects such as the flash of a fired gun. Some games will allow a single player to use two controllers at once, but it’s likely this will be an optional feature and all games will work with just one controller.

The aim of the system is to give designers much more scope for the in-game objects players can control. For example, by making the movement reactions faster or slower, a game could simulate the different weights of a sword against a heavy sub-machine gun.

CNET’s Dan Ackerman
tried out the system at the Games Developers Conference and reports that it is much more accurate than the Wii. Given the different audiences, that’s likely to be a particularly important factor.

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