Though Sony owned the last two video game console generations, they're having trouble with the PS3. The Nintendo Wii introduced motion sensing and sold incredibly well, Microsoft's Xbox 360 has the best online experience and the innovative controller-less Kinect, and Sony's PS3 is...lagging. But a host of announcements today at the E3 conference in Los Angeles shows that Sony isn't out of it yet, and they're targeting hardcore gamers above all else.
PlayStation Move, the microphone-looking motion controller Sony brags is both more accurate and more tactile (it has lots of buttons) than the Wii, was officially priced and dated. It'll be available September 19th, for a steep entry fee: a bundle, with the Move controller, EyeToy camera, and Sports Champion game will cost $100. The Move controller alone will cost $50, and the EyeToy camera alone is $40. Interestingly, the Navigation Controller, which is sort of like a fancier version of the Wii's nunchuck (Sony's version has more buttons, a joystick, and a directional pad, and connects wirelessly), costs $30. The Navigation controller is not included in the Move bundle. There'll also be a PS3 bundle, which is essentially a PS3 with a Move bundle, minus the EyeToy, for $400. Move games will cost $40.
How does that compare to Microsoft's Kinect? Well, the Kinect will cost $150. But keep in mind that Microsoft's price includes a whole lot more than Sony's does. To get the full Move experience, you'll need a Move controller ($50), an EyeToy ($30), and a Navigation controller ($30). Some games will even require two Move controllers, one in each hand. That's either $110 or $160 per person, and we all know from the Wii that motion-sensitive gaming is best done in a group. Compare that to the Kinect, which is $150. For everything. You don't need multiple versions, since Kinect can recognize more than one person at a time. For four people, you could be looking at well over $400 for the Move—with the Kinect, it's still $150.
They're very different systems, geared toward different ends, but Sony's motion-sensing system is definitely a pricey investment.
Sony is heavily pushing stereoscopic 3-D. Every PS3 will receive a software update that will enable 3-D gaming, though unlike Nintendo's 3DS, you'll still need to wear glasses. They'll be releasing a ton of new games taking advantage of 3-D, both new and old. The PS3 will also get another update for 3-D Blu-ray titles sometime later this year—good news for fans of Avatar and headaches.
On the mobile front, it appears reports of the PSP's death were greatly exaggerated. In fact, not only did Sony not introduce a PSP2, the company introduced about 70 PSP games, including God of Sparta and Ghost of War, which should breathe some life into the oldish console.
Sony's also taking some effort with PlayStation Network, but some fans may balk at the new addition. PlayStation Plus, which costs $50 per year, nets subscribers discounts, exclusive content, minigames, and automatic update downloads. It also nets Sony quite a bit of money, provided anyone actually signs up for it.
One of the most interesting announcements is that Steam will be coming to the PS3. Steam is a digital distribution service for games, sort of like a video game version of iTunes. It's become the standard distribution venue for Windows, and was just rolled out for Mac recently. Now it's coming to the PlayStation Network. Valve, a prominent game development studio, announced that the highly anticipated Portal 2 will be available on PS3 the same day it hits PC and Xbox 360, sometime next year. It will not, unfortunately, support cross-platform gaming—PS3 gamers will be sequestered with their own kind in online play.