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Sony emphasizes 'precision' as it unveils motion-sensing video game controller Playstation Move

March 11, 2010 | 11:38 am

Playstation Move Sony unveiled a new motion-sensing video game controller called the Playstation Move at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday and made a less-than-subtle attempt to contrast it with the major competition, Nintendo's Wii.

"I think we mentioned 'precision' a couple of times, so I hope we got that across," Sony Computer Entertainment America marketing vice president Peter Dille said at the end of his presentation, emphasizing his company's key talking point on how the Move differs from Nintendo's motion-sensing Wii-mote.

The Wii has captured first place in the console market over the last three years, thanks in part to the simplicity of its innovative motion-sensing controller. The Playstation 3, despite some recent momentum, is still in third place in sales, behind Microsoft's Xbox 360 as well as Nintendo's Wii.

In the first public demonstration of the newly named Move following a prototype demo at last year's E3 conference, there was no mistaking the similarities of it to the Wii-mote. Like Nintendo's device, the Move is a small handheld stick that players can swing, thrust, wave or twist in order to interact with a video game. The main difference is that the Move is topped with a small glowing ball that's tracked by a camera.

Sony also unveiled several upcoming titles that resemble popular Nintendo games. Sports Champions, a collection of small athletic competitions that use motion-sensing controls, bears an obvious similarity to Wii Sports, the popular title that shipped with early versions of the Nintendo Wii.

Originally scheduled to come out in the spring, the Move is launching in the fall with a lineup of compatible games from Sony as well as most major publishers. The company plans to market it as a superior alternative to what's now on the shelves and a new experience for families that may already have a Nintendo Wii in their homes.

"People expect a Playstation product to be cutting-edge," Sony Computer Entertainment America president Jack Tretton said in an interview. "It had to be jaw-dropping and revolutionary."

Hands-on demos with the device at Sony's press event confirmed that it's significantly more accurate and responsive to a player's moves than the Nintendo Wii.

In trying to convince players to buy yet another piece of hardware, however, Sony will not only have to compete against what Nintendo has had on store shelves since late 2006, but against what's coming from Microsoft as well. Its new motion-sensing interface for the Xbox 360, code-named Project Natal, launches this fall and doesn't require a controller at all, using a camera to track the movement of a player's body.

Clearly eager to minimize the competitive sphere, however, Sony executives didn't even mention Natal at their press event. Precision, it seems, only goes so far.

--Ben Fritz

Photo: A player tries out the Playstation Move at a Sony event in San Francisco. Credit: Ben Fritz / Los Angeles Times.
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