The news that leaked out about Sony not only having developed a next generation PlayStation Eye, but looking to package it in with the PlayStation 4 (also called Orbis) has the internet talking about motion control yet again and how this will rival the next generation of Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox. Both Microsoft and Sony will then continue marching forward into the world of motion controls, something that Nintendo launched with the original Wii console, albeit in a much different way than Microsoft did with the Kinect. The question really is; are either Microsoft or Sony going to bring anything new or really engaging to the table with motion control, or is this going to be yet another fruitless gimmick in a long line of failed gimmicks?
A part of me thinks that there could be hope for motion control if there is a precedent set by both Sony and Microsoft to include their motion controllers as a part of the system and force it to be standard. Nintendo forced developers and gamers to get used to the idea of the Wii being based on motion control by having the Wii Remote as the standard controller for the system. This forced developers to look at the concept of motion controls and to try their best to include it into their games in a new and engaging manner. Now, if they succeeded in that is another question entirely, as there is the whole fact that a lot of games just used some “waggle” here and there and otherwise it was kind of a wash.
The PlayStation Move and the Kinect have been moderate successes and bigger failures based upon the fact that they weren’t the standard and therefore were just seen as peripherals in the eyes of developers. Games that did include Kinect or Move support only did so as a cool added bonus most of the time and it is arguable that most of those features are things that you can live without quite comfortably. Both the Move and Kinect really have been hurt by the lack of a respective killer app, unlike the Wii that came packaged with Wii Sports, which showed just how intuitive and fun their motion controls could be.
This level of commitment to motion control is a good thing, but as long as they include normal controllers, they are undermining their motion controls.
Then comes the fact that Nintendo is not trying to bring their motion controls to any sort of new level, they already found a winning formula that wasn’t too complicated and have decided to stick with it. The Wii Remote plays a big part in the Wii U, but the star of the show is the Wii U GamePad that features a touchscreen and an accelerometer for tilt controls (much like we see in smartphones and the DualShock 3). People are already raving and talking about the GamePad concept and motion controls feels very “last generation,” so the focus on motion control from both Sony and Microsoft seems a bit behind the times. Both have done some work towards the whole “second screen” gameplay, but have yet to fully embrace it and in a way, I feel like we’ll see them trying to catch up to Nintendo with it in this generation much like they were trying to catch up to Nintendo with motion control for the last generation.