PlayStation Move Hands-On

This is not my hand.

PlayStation Move Controller.

This past Saturday I had a chance to go into a Sony Style store where a “PlayStation Pro” was on hand to pitch Sony’s latest gaming peripheral, the PlayStation Move. I’ve never witnessed a professional pitchman from a console manufacture before and I have to say, it was very interesting.

When I got my hands-on time with the controller, the PlayStation representative selected the table tennis mini-game from “Sports Champions”. Having played both tennis from Wii Sports and table tennis from Wii Sports Resort, I was very curious to see how this experience would differ.

As I got my hands on the controller, it was readily apparent that the motion tracking was very precise. Reaching across my body caused my onscreen avatar to mirror the move with sufficient accuracy. As I extended my reach in any one direction (left or right), my character would do likewise. This also caused the character to move in that direction as well.

Comparing it to the Wii Motion Plus, I can’t say as though I noticed any difference as far as putting spin on the ball. That’s not a knock on Move, as the accuracy of Wii Motion Plus has been the gold standard. Therefore, the experience of playing this particular game felt very familiar. If you’ve played the above-mentioned games on the Wii, you won’t have much trouble jumping into this. I do have to say that the “Sports Champions” version of table tennis felt a bit more like a simulation in that it really does require you to use your whole body to reach the far side of the table. Nintendo’s Wii Sports Resort table tennis offers a great deal of compensation as your character will always reach the ball if you make the effort to swing the controller.

Sony elected to use characters and locations that skew toward realistic in contrast to Nintendo’s Mii’s and Xbox’s Avatars. Sony’s decision to go this route may help them cement the message that PlayStation Move is designed for the hardcore gamer as well as the casual gamer.

So is the PlayStation Move for the casual gamer, or is it for the hardcore gamer who is looking for a more realistic experience? Is a hardcore gamer really looking for a more realistic input method to control their games, or is that something that the casual gamer is clamoring for? As I listened to the “PlayStation Pro”, he was selling Move as a hardcore game peripheral. Perhaps he felt that he was speaking to hardcore gamers at the time, though I can’t be sure. In the back of my mind though, I can’t help but wonder if Sony hasn’t set out fix something that isn’t broken (the Wii Motion Plus) or perhaps their trying to fill a void where none exists. When asked by someone in attendance about how it stacks up to Xbox’s Kinect, he referred to the competition’s product as a casual input device with limited potential. He stressed that it was no different from what Sony did almost 10 years ago with the EyeToy. Hey, he’s still a salesman.

It seems to me that the Sony is faced with an uphill battle with Motion. Not because I think they have an inferior product, it really does seem to work well. However, they will need to convince the public that the PlayStation Motion offers more than just better graphics than the Wii. Even harder I think will be convincing people that their “wand” controllers are more “next generation” than using no controller at all.

With the upcoming release of SOCOM, Resident Evil, and a patch for last winter’s release, Heavy Rain, there might be some software there that really reveals the potential of Move to a greater extent. What’s troubling though is that this particular “PlayStation Pro” only had a few minutes of my time to sell me on it and he spent it all on table tennis. If there is a killer app waiting in the wings for PlayStation Move, it had better get here fast before Sony misses the boat.

About Michael "Tebroc" Corbett

According to Mike's memory banks, his first experience with video games happened in 1981 on his brother Jim's Atari VCS - CX2600. (Mike is unsure of whether or not it was a Sunnyvale Edition.) Asteroids and Defender were his favorite games. Fast-forward 20 some years and he has gone on to save the princess but not any money. He never learned to read but now writes articles using speech-to-text technology. Awesome.