Some E3 Thoughts

I don’t know how to process Sony’s and Microsoft’s respective motion control announcements. In general, I’ve come to embrace the better utilizations of Wii’s motion control capabilities, so it’s not that I’m against the notion altogether. In fact, I’ve believed (as many others have) that motion control of some variety will be a default means of input on all 3 next generation consoles.

And yet, I can’t shake the notion that these E3 reveals were ultimately disingenuous. Sony’s wand-like solution won’t release until Spring 2010, and Microsoft’s 3D camera might take until the end of next year to hit the market. Even now, the general course of this generation is already clear. By next year, though? There’s just no chance that these peripherals will change how things will turn out in the end. It’s too late.

Beyond the issue of release date, there’s the matter of price. How much will these things cost? Rumors are swirling that the current price of Microsoft’s camera is about $200 – hard to verify, but Microsoft will need to be at the $50 dollar range to move a lot of units. Sony’s wand needs an Eye (camera), which retails for ~$30 right now, though that will surely drop in the next year. The price of the actual controller is unknown at this point.

Both technologies seem cool, don’t get me wrong, if a little unrealized. Microsoft’s camera is undoubtedly intriguing, but I’m not totally sold on its utility as a standalone entity – my biggest gripe with the Wiimote is its lack of physical feedback, and completely taking physical objects out of the equation definitely won’t help in that regard. Still, facial and vocal recognition are very interesting features, and especially as an augment to other control methods, the camera has a lot of potential. Sony’s tech is more along the lines of Nintendo’s MotionPlus solution (in practice), and that makes its prospects more readily imaginable.

It’s just hard to imagine a situation that either of these new technology would gain any type of traction this generation. MotionPlus comes out next week, and it has a full suite of software to welcome it to the market, not to mention the motion-ready mindset of Wii owners.

So what’s the point?

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