PlayStation owners, rejoice! Soon you will stop hearing “when are you getting a Wii?” from your friends and family. Sony has just announced the PlayStation Move at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Presented last year at E3 (in fanfare), it is now a real product that will be sold as a bundle (game+ EyeToy webcam + PS Move) for $100. If you add the secondary controller, and make that a set of two, the bill will fairly quickly. So, how is it?
In “The Shoot”, you are battling in movie sets. Each has a themeAfter watching a very convincing presentation from Sony, I tried the PlayStation Move. The first game was a shooter called “The Shoot”. It’s a rail shooter (pre-determined sequence) in which villain robots are trying to get you (think of it as a Time Crisis). The controller worked fairly well, with some lag (a fraction of a second), but it was OK. This is no “light gun” experience however – for this type of game, I would say that a light gun is much better, at least for aiming. The issue is that you still need to move around and perform non-shooting actions.
Sony’s concept: the PS Move could be awesome for action gamesThe SOCOM 4 demo was interesting because playing a first person shooter with a gamepad isn’t really ideal (for me). The motion controller makes thing interesting for FPS, but it is certainly not to the level that the image above would suggest. Also, because you have to exert quite a bit of control on the hand that is holding the PS Move, I wonder how it feels after 45mn – I’ll have to try at home. I’m just wondering.
In my opinion, the motion controller really shines with sports or casual games where Motion is actually key to the action (ping pong, archery, fight). Of course, this is no Tekken, but if you want to have a good time without learning 10-hit combos for a week, this is it. Imagine having “Wii fun” with “PS3 graphics” (yeah, that does sound good, right?). Sony has the potential to really go mainstream with casual games, even if Sony preaches that hardcore gamers will also be able to enjoy the PS Move. It’s possible, but not yet proven.
SOCOM 4 played with the PlayStation Move
On a technical note, none of the games shown truly represented what the PlayStation controller was capable of, because each game used the motion sensor’s data differently. Some games will smooth out (average) the motion data because our hands are more shaky than you would think. Others could even forward-predict movements (by 1/30fps or so). The effective lag between motion and display (rendered frame by the PS3) can be as low as 22ms (millisecond), which doesn’t sound like a lot. For reference, 1/60s is 16.6ms.
Sony might have a great message for potential customers: a hardcore game console that can play Blu-Ray discs and even provide Wii-fun. Now, it comes down to games and pricing. I’m very confident that PlayStation developers will create cool games, so it’s really down to pricing. At $100, the PlayStation Move bundle costs 30% of the console price. Add an auxiliary controller and double everything up to accommodate two players and the cost might go up to $170-$200 (which is about the cost of a Wii). For new buyers, it’s a $400 to $500 gaming system. Time will tell, but Sony now has a lot of ammo against Nintendo. The upcoming holiday season is going to be interesting.