Technology is constantly changing. Some being large advances, while others are merely an iteration upon existing technology. Playstation Move is obviously an example of the latter.
Nintendo Wii proved to the world that motion control is more than capable of finding its rightful place in the video game industry. Captivating a new audience in the gaming space is no easy task. And yet, Nintendo’s established audience grows each and every month as the Wii consistently stands tall amongst its peers in sales.
But while Microsoft’s Project Natal is redefining motion control, Sony is iterating upon Nintendo’s success – all in the name of “precision”. Is that enough? Ultimately, does precision really matter?
The Wii MotionPlus was debuted by Nintendo at E3 in 2008. By the end of 2010 there will have been roughly 20 Wii games that actually support this peripheral. A peripheral which was supposed to provide Wii gamers a more accurate level of precision. While still a young addition to the console, it is almost an altogether forgettable device.
Among these roughly 20 titles, 3 actually require the Wii MotionPlus: The Legend of Zelda to be released later this year, Red Steel 2 to be released later this month, and the extraordinarily successful Wii Sports Resort. But let’s be honest, the success of Wii Sports Resort was not because of the precision provided by this 20-dollar peripheral.
Now, I in no way consider myself a fanboy of any console. Writers (or bloggers as the case may be) should never neglect or unfairly favor the resources available to them – especially when it helps give a fair perspective. So, I give credit where credit is due. Nintendo has sparked another space in gaming. That much cannot be denied. And with that, enter Microsoft with Project Natal, and Sony with Playstation Move.
When I say “Microsoft’s Project Natal is redefining motion control”, what I mean by that is that it’s a perfect example of thinking outside of the box. It, from what one can discern, is providing a new experience in the field of motion control entertainment. And for that I can appreciate and understand its place among the “competition” as some may incorrectly call it.
Natal knows what it does best and it advertises itself as such. The great jump in, jump out mechanic that Natal will provide is unmatched in this immature gaming space. No prior knowledge of how a controller works is required. Just jump in and do what makes sense – what feels natural. And how appropriate it is that the promotion that introduced the Xbox 360 was “Jump In”.
After its true, formal introduction at GDC 2010, Sony has made it quite evident that its selling point with Playstation Move is precision. The word precision was used at least a dozen times from Sony during its announcement and demonstration of its newest addition to the Playstation 3. A product that will come in at under $100 and with over 20 games supported by April 2011.
Think about that for a second. Within the first few months of its release, Sony’s Playstation Move will support precision motion control in roughly the same amount of games as the Wii. And of course I use precision in regards to the Wii MotionPlus very loosely as it is not as accurate and precise.
But what does precision give us? Does it make games more fun? The Wii proves that it truly isn’t required to make motion games fun. Does it help immerse us in the experience? Surely it does not when you are still holding devices in your hand. In fact, I would argue that Natal would be a more immersive experience in a majority of games.
OK. So does it help us play specific games in a much more realistic fashion? Undoubtedly. Such games would include sports games, first person shooters, and, with the success of Heavy Rain, story driven games – giving the upper hand of immersion to Sony in this case.
Sports games may be enough for some users, but not a majority. While FPS games with motion control are neat at first, it will always be far less efficient and useful than any controller or mouse. So, knowing that precise motion control gaming is beneficial in such a limited library makes me question why it is the biggest thing Sony is advertising. Ultimately, it doesn’t give enough of a new experience in comparison to what the Wii provides.
While gimmicky, augmented reality may be a more appealing feature to drive home to potential users of the Playstation Move. It would, ironically, perfectly signify how I view motion control gaming in the first place: gimmicky. But, Sony needs something that will differentiate itself from what are ultimately entirely new platforms in and of themselves. Precision isn’t the right way to appeal to a large enough audience with this media campaign of theirs.
But if precision isn’t it, what does Playstation Move provide that the Nintendo Wii can’t? Augmented reality sure, but is that enough to move the amount of units they want to? When looking at the Nintendo Wii and Playstation Move side by side, I can’t help but see the Nintendo Wii having the upper hand in just about every aspect of motion control gaming. Thus, not only retaining, but continuing to increase their audience.
Is the Playstation Move providing enough for you to warrant a purchase? Maybe it will do nothing more than make you dust off your Wii. Or perhaps justify that purchase of Nintendo’s little white box you’ve been contemplating for so long.
Precision isn’t it, Sony. Ball is still in your court.