Sony’s Motion Control: Exclusively Casual?

All that we have come to expect from the computer games industry has been thrown up in the air with the latest generation of consoles. Nintendo were the first to throw away the rule book and just look how much it’s paid off. Once the success of the Wii’s motion control had hit home, there was an obvious shift in focus from both Sony and Microsoft.

The t-shirt and jeans crowd is where the money is at and Nintendo’s foresight (or some might say luck) had bagged them a demographic all of their own. Now that the dust has settled in casual land and the envious eyes of S ‘n’ M have had a chance to plan, we are now seeing the fruit of their labour.

Both very different in their approach and technology but both gunning for the same demographic, Microsoft’s Natal and Sony’s Wands have exciting potential for the avid game players here at TSA. Motion control has already proved its advantages in how games can be played, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all going to be good.

Some have expressed their uncertainty about where these hardware developments are going to take our beloved consoles. It’s not like consoles have had a good run with add ons. Remember the great console upgrades of the 80s and 90s? Remember the Eye Toy? Even if these new technologies are implemented well, the key to making them worthwhile is continued support in all areas of gaming.

An anonymous source recently told TSA that he is working on a motion controlled casual game for Sony. This is to be expected. It’s got to be one of the prime reasons behind the development of the hardware. But what if the core crowd isn’t supported? Bare in mind that this is the demographic that Sony has just spent three years winning back from the 360’s head start. There are issues here that need to be addressed. Hopefully the Tokyo Game Show will set me at ease but right now, my main concern lies in it’s execution.

When our anonymous dev was asked about how the core gamers will be supported he wasn’t sure. Thinking of the current staple of genres, very few would be feasible with two wands both with a single trigger on them. And I’ve tried holding a Dualshock with one hand. Comfortable it aint. As I’m sure you’re thinking right now, ‘what about Nintendo’s nun-chuck?’ and I totally agree. The worrying thing is, as far as we know, there won’t be a Sony version.

In order for these new peripherals to have any impact on AAA core titles Sony need those extra on/off state buttons and the degree of control you get from an analogue stick for this to work. Resident Evil 4 for the Wii was one of the most enjoyable titles I’ve played in recent years and this was only possible with the pair of controllers complementing each other seamlessly and giving you the control and accuracy needed.

Of course all of this could be a conscious decision. Sony could be using the lack of the nun-chuck to force devs to think of control in new ways. This I would be happy with, but the games industry is a fickle beast. There aren’t many publishers who are willing to experiment but when one does and gets it right, watch that bandwagon roll.

As much as I want to see the accuracy and potential of Sony’s motion control put to good use, we must all expect the first crop of games for it to be casual. If we’re lucky we’ll probably see a few patched titles and the odd mini game but unless a new genre is born, core gamers, don’t hold your breath.