Sony gave a brief tech demo of its motion controller at the E3 show last year (and discussed it with us just a few weeks ago), but a lot of the particulars were left unknown. Today, they demonstrated the newly-dubbed PlayStation Move, and released details about accessories, price, and release date. Sony’s hoping the Move will attract buyers tempted by the Wii’s motion-sensing gaming–but they’ve got a lot of ground to make up.
The basics are much like the Nintendo’s motion controller, except instead of Wii’s motion-sensing bar that sits on top of your TV, the PlayStation Move will use Sony’s PlayStation Eye camera. Other than that, the Move is also a remote-control-like controller that can be attached to a side-controller for two-handed play. But whereas Nintendo’s Wiimote had to be attached to its Nunchuck sub-controller, the Move connects wirelessly via a little lightbulb-shaped adapter (which, thankfully, looks more like a microphone than, well, something less savory). For some games, like a swordfighting game, you’ll actually need two separate controllers–and everything, including the sub-controller, will almost certainly be sold individually.
The use of the PS Eye is interesting; it’s definitely an advantage over the Wii’s sensor bar, since it can use augmented reality to add graphics to whatever you’re doing, onscreen. Instead of just pretending you’re holding a tennis racquet, you can see yourself onscreen holding one, which is pretty cool.
But beyond augmented reality, it’s not clear that Sony’s doing much to dispel the notion that they’re just releasing a Wiimote-like accessory. Compared to Microsoft‘s Project Natal for Xbox 360, which forgoes the controller entirely for a system that maps your body and can respond to individual limbs or even other objects, Sony’s doing very little innovating here. Gizmodo tried out the Move and found that it’s slightly more responsive than Nintendo’s Wii MotionPlus, and of course the PS3 is a far more powerful console than the Wii, but that it was mostly underwhelming. We’ve seen this before–and a “me too” product may not be enough to drag Sony out of third place in the current-gen console wars.
The Move will be sold in a few configurations, including a standalone controller; a package with a PS Eye, Move controller, and a game; and a package with an Eye, Move, game, and a PS3 console. The only price we have for now is that the Eye, Move, and game combination will fall under $100. Sony is aiming for a fall 2010 launch window.