The head of marketing for the PlayStation brand told us at E3 that Sony's new PlayStation 3 motion-control tech could be the thing to get hardcore players into "motion gaming."
We covered Microsoft's new motion-control system, Natal, heavily last week. And that's without us getting a firm release date for it.
But what of Sony's camera-and-wand PS3 tech, also debuting at E3 2009, and which is dated for a spring 2010 release?
During my interview with Sony Computer Entertainment of America marketing chief Peter Dille, I pressed for more details.
The Sony approach involved a showcase of a player holding one or two wand-shaped controllers in his hand. A PlayStation camera detected some of the positional information of the controller. Holding the controller allowed the player to precisely write words on a virtual canvas and to tightly control a bow-and-arrow or a gun in shooting demos. The PS3 was also able to render the wand as a virtual object, even when showing a video feed of the person holding the wand (that wand appearing as a giant gold gun or a tennis racket, in the demos).
First, I asked Dille, did I miss a name for this thing?
"You didn't miss it," Dille said. "There is none yet. We were careful to say that Rick Marks is the engineer. We're announcing the technology, not the product or game. He also wanted people to know the form factor of the wand is a prototype. I think it is representative of what the product will include. In other words, it will have buttons. It will have the ability to have a trigger if you're having that style of game. The button in the archery demo was key to how far you're pulling [the wand]back. And the light is detecting that. So the other key is the light on the tip of the wand. So no product name, no pricing, no specifics on the product aspect."
What Dille did confirm is that the camera used in the demo was a regular PlayStation Eye camera.
Microsoft's Natal showing suggested that motion-control's future might not involve a controller. Dille, however, thinks that having a controller in your hand even for motion-control is important, especially given the new target market he thinks Sony can hit with their device:
"It's not only relevant." he said. "From our perspective we have the technology that provides better precision. And that gives us the opportunity to do the best of both worlds. If you want to do what we're referring to as casual motion games, the PlayStation Eye and the motion controller do that quite nicely.
"The point that the demo was trying to articulate, I think, is that there's a level of precision that the wand provides, whether it was in the handwriting demo that gets down to millimeters, that is going to allow game developers to create entirely new types of games that we believe have the potential to appeal to core gamers who, up until now, maybe haven't embraced motion gaming as much as casual fans. So it's a very robust technology that gives you the opportunity to do both."