Motion Trends of E3 2010

How the tables have turned. At this year’s E3 press conferences, Nintendo had only one game demonstrating motion, while Microsoft and Sony spent the majority of their time on their new motion peripherals. Funny to see, as both companies and the game press, were dismissive of what Nintendo was doing a few years ago.

Microsoft’s motion strategy seems overall more interesting and new. In Feb. 2009, it quickly bought the company 3DV, who just demoed their motion tech at CES, to hastily put together a demonstration called “Project Natal”, just a few months later for E3. The system works with no controller, but by motion tracking through cameras, much like the Eye Toy has done on the PS2 and PS3 for years now. This one offers unparalleled accuracy with 3 cameras that can better track you. It also promises 3D motion real time tracking, facial recognition and voice recognition capabilities. Sounds like great tech, but you still need some great software to take advantage of it. The software I saw for Kinect’s coming out party, was bordering on embarrassing. Without having a physical controller, proven motion control gaming like golfing, tennis, driving or shooting just won’t work as well. Where it has a clear advantage is for exercising and dance games, which were the big winners from game journalists at the show. This will leave the Kinect in a weird spot. The hardware is too expensive or redundant for causal players that may already have a Wii and it doesn’t currently offer good software for the hardcore xbox players, most likely to buy (unless they want to get in shape or dance in front of their television). One other advantage is you do not have to buy additional controllers for more players. What the press found while demoing, is Kinect could only track 2 people at a time, and had difficulty doing that accurately on some games. Also, no games will work while sitting down! Hopefully they can improve this prior to launch.

Internally developed, Sony’s Move is essentially the Wiimote in HD. Except it uses the Eye camera to track, instead of a sensor bar. It promises better accuracy, but I was not convinced from the hands-on demos. Right now, it seems comparable to wii motion plus. What the Move lacks to the Wiimote, is a speaker on the controller. Which I find quite effective to the experience. Instead the Move controller offers a orb at it’s end, which can change to different colors? Interesting to see what developers can do with that, I guess. The Move did alot better job in appealling to the hardcore gamer over the Kinect, with demos like Killzone 3, Resident Evil, Tiger Woods Golf, and Dead Space. They also showed the most interesting new motion IP for me, Sorcery. I admit to wanting a HD Tiger Woods Golf. I quite like golf on my Wii. But for $110, that’s a tough sell.

As you can tell, I wasn’t initially impressed with Move or Kinect. In the end, it comes down to having software I want to play. I’m just not feeling the software on either. I’m definitely waiting for things to mature or fade next year, before I decide.

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