In the current generation video game wars, it’s hard to question to dominance of the Wii. As of 2011, more than 74 million Wii units have been sold worldwide; compared to about 43 million Xbox 360 units and about 38 million PS3’s. Another way to look at it is dominance by the inferior unit. The Wii’s graphics are primitive compared to the other two units, the gameplay is much more limited, and there is no online gaming to speak of. And yet this unit has outsold the other two consoles by a ratio of almost two to one.
Motion control. By convincing parents that the Wii allows their children to get up and move while playing games, Nintendo outsold their competition. Of course, I’ve discovered with my own Wii that there’s no reason to actually get up… you can just as easily sit on your butt and point.
When the Playstation 3 was launched, it also had limited motion control with its “sixaxis” controller (front/back, left/right, up/down). Although this is terrific for flying games or for aiming your ball in High Velocity Bowling, it is functionally useless for anything else.
So now, years after the introduction of these consoles, both Playstation and Microsoft have introduced motion controllers for their systems.
The Xbox Kinect is a truly full-body motion system. By using a sensor bar with three “eyes”, it is able to see the user’s entire body and respond to any movement of the arms, legs and torso. It was released in November, 2010 and retails for around $150 with one game. You can also purchase a bundle including the Kinect, one game, and an Xbox 360 with a 4 gig hard drive for about $300 (a bundle including a 250 gig hard drive Xbox will retail for around $400).
Playstation got a jump on its competition, however, with its release of the Move system for the PS3 a little before Kinect.
The Move retails for around $100 and includes a Playstation Eye webcam, as well as one game and the Move controller. A bundle is also available with the Move controller, the Eye camera, the Sports Champion game and a PS3 with a 320 gig hard drive is available for around $400. The Move is more limited than the Kinect, as it relies on the camera’s ability to read the light on the end of the Move controller for its motion control.
Along with the launch lineup of dedicated Move games (Sports Champion, Tumble, Eyepet, Start the Party and Kung Fu Rider), however, Playstation also released Move updates for several of its existing titles, including High Velocity Bowling, Pain, and the 2009 game of the year, Uncharted: Among Thieves. (With the Move updates for Pain and HVB came updates to play these games in 3-D on 3-D capable televisions.)
Initial complaints with the Move system include the menus being too touchy, too easy to skip off of the option that you actually WANT (a complaint that this system shares with the Wii) and the recommended playing distance of eight feet. This is a challenge for those of us with smaller living rooms. My room is about eight feet from the television to the far wall. The closer that you are to the television, the easier it is for the Eye camera to lose “sight” of the light on the end of the Move controller.
It will be interesting to see how motion controllers (as well as Microsoft’s utter unwillingness to use Sony’s Blu-Ray technology, limiting them to the much more limited storage of standard def DVD (about 9 gigs for SD vs. about 60 gigs for Blu-Ray) will effect the upcoming next generation of video game consoles.