Playstation have released their launch lineup for Playstation Move. Microsoft noisehole Aaron Greenberg has responded with some words. Rabid fanboys are pre-typing incoherent forum posts to back their corner. Neutral hardcore gamers are getting ready for weeks of intense apathy and dismissal. Nintendo owners are sitting at home with their families not giving a fuck. It's all about to kick off.
The battle for the Motion Control silver medal is ready to begin...and this time they're trying to impress 'us'.
Here's my take on it:
In a nutshell, it's all going to come down to software.
Both companies are are going to have to step it up and appeal to the current crop of owners because, like it or not, Gran and Gramps are terrified of that sleek looking piece of gear under their Grandkid's TV and just an Xbox/PS3 menu system alone is enough to make them crap their diapers and pop a hip out simultaneously. On the other hand, Mum and Dad already know what their 7 year old kid is getting. I'll give you a hint: It's a Nintendo Wii.
Nintendo has already proved that you don't need the best hardware to snag consumers; you just need a fresh idea, an affordable box to hook it up to and a vast pool of playable turd with the occasional floating gem, in order to turn over some serious money (beating everybody else to the punch helps). The PS3 and Xbox are both relatively affordable, they also both have a solid install base. They have development teams capable of churning out both oceans of crap and highly polished diamonds too. They both claim to have fresh ideas.
From what I have seen so far, Playstation's Move just seems too derivative. I have seen nothing to excite or inspire. Nothing that is going to change anything. Just a WiiMote for the PS3. With some decent software and the right pricetag they could perhaps wind up with another piece of semi-adopted technology to accompany the PS Eye.
So far the launch title announcements for Playstation Move reek of 'meh' to me. Sure, it's exactly the type of crap that made Nintendo's little white box print money but it's just a few years too late. Integration into more hardcore games (a la Socom, GT5 announcements) seems to be their big seller for us 'proper' gamers, but on that front I think all but the most deranged Sony convert is likely to agree that it will probably add nothing to the game, and just end up as a rarely used option.
Without being able to rely on the Soccer Mum, 5 Year old and Grandparent crow that Nintendo have wrapped up. They are going to need to break out some serious games and unique functionality to bring gamers around. Downhill office chair racing is just not going to cut it...
Natal has the benefit of being something completely different. This ratchets up the potential for the Epic Fail but has the benefit of offering something completely unique. Not a replacement for the type of games that are currently played; not an extension of the games we already know and love; but something totally off the wall.
On the flipside: It seems generally accepted that hardcore gamers are not fans of moving. We like our controllers in our hands, our feet up on the coffee table and the opportunity to mong out with a game for hours on end without breaking a sweat. Even with the introduction of the WiiMote, gamers worldwide figured out a way to become undefeatable in WiiSports tennis with little more than a flick of the wrist. I'm not saying that Microsoft's Natal is going to force us to make gaming a lot of hard work, but the fact it has no controller at all means that you are either going to be standing up in front of your TV, or not using it at all.
They will have to put out some seriously challenging stuff to get our fat asses off of the sofa. If they fall back to mini-game compendium shovelware or half-baked integration into existing franchises it is destined for FAIL. Controller, or no controller: no fun is just no fun.
"Thanks Joe. Is this going anywhere?"
Not really, but the ball is in Microsoft's court right now. They have the unknown and the untested on their side. The only real giveaways we the public have seen as of yet are a few tech demos and some PR dogshit courtesy of Mr. Greenberg. It's certainly intruiging technology; but can in convert into something that we, the gamers, actually want to play? Sony on the other hand seem like they are going to be the first to launch, but the launch package definitely doesn't seem like a day one purchase to me, and I'm sure to a lot of other gamers.
I seriously doubt the ability of either company to muster serious support from the casual market. At least nothing to the degree that Nintendo have already established. So, it's going to be a matter of satisfying the hardcore and swaying the bro-sumers who would usually stick to their Halo/Call of Duty/Sports Titles.
It's a tough one to call, but it's Microsoft's to fuck up.
So I took a quick look inside the Hong Kong Ani-Com conference to see what was going down and it was pretty cool. It was mainly Anime oriented but there was a gaming area with nothing particularly exciting to speak of inside. I got to play Forza 3 and also Street Fighter 4 on a massive Flat screen with NVidia 3d technology running which was a bit of a trip. The gaming area was mostly populated by Chinese MMOs I don't understand but XBOX had a presence. No sign of Sony or Nintendo though which was odd. Mainly, my day was spent fighting my way through throngs of mental Cosplayers who made up more than 95% of the 100,000 strong population of this sweaty, stinking dork bowl.