In 1994 the PlayStation was released. In 2000, the PlayStation 2. 2006 saw the release of the PlayStation 3. If you are noticing a pattern you are not alone: Sony Entertainment has put out an entirely new system every 6 years since its entrance into the console market in ‘94. Nintendo and Microsoft, the two other major competitors in the videogame system world, follow a similar pattern. So, in 2012 the PlayStation 4 should be hitting stores. But it isn’t.
In fact, the PlayStation 3 is just hitting its peak, with exclusive releases this year such as Killzone 3, Twisted Metal, and Uncharted 3. Amidst this success, thePlayStation Move hit shelves in November. Readers may wonder whether Move is some new game, or a revolutionary console. Well, It’s both. And it’s neither. The Move combines the PlayStation 3 console and PS Eye to bring together a virtual reality experience, using the PS Eye’s computer vision to recognize gestures and movement. In other words, it’s a frighteningly accurate Wii 2.0. This is not a bad thing though, as every hardcore gamer that hates the Wii can attest, the sole problem with the Wii lie its inaccuracy—and Nintendo’s general reluctance to cater to the hardcore gamers who spent years with Link, Samus, and Mario. The Move insists it provides for both of these needs, with titles like Killzone 3 and SOCOM 4 for PlayStation’s faithful followers, as well as Wii style sports/adventures games which provide a much more accurate experience for younger and older gamers who want to get involved.
So, what does this mean for PlayStation’s future? While it isn’t quite fair to say PlayStation is shifting its focus to casual gamers only, it is clear that they are trying to branch out to a wider audience, as is evident in the Move’s tagline: “This Changes Everything.” Such a statement probably brings frightening flashbacks of Nintendo’s transition into a kiddy toy for gamers under the age of 12, but it seems PlayStation is focused on proving that even titles such as Sports Champions can be enjoyable and competitive titles that will do well with all ages, including hardcore gamers who may want to get their motion-sensing feet wet.
Kevin Butler, the humorous, fictional Sony Executive from the familiar PlayStation commercials addressed this at E3 last year, “We use characters that have important features (pause) like arms and necks,” taking a jab at the Wii Boxing’s lack thereof. Amidst jokes about moms and 10 year olds beating frat kids in boxing games, Butler made a powerful statement on PlayStation’s branching out to different generations, “When we said the PS3 only does everything we meant it. And the Move brings a whole lot moreeverything to the table. Because every gamer is a true gamer. Motion gamers, sitting gamers, we all serve one master: GAMING.” The audience erupted in applause.
Judging from Butler’s speech, it seems as though the Move and the PlayStation 3 console are two entirely separate projects, capable of working together. Dating back to a 2003 interview upon the release of Sony’s EyeToy, the man behind the Move, developer Richard Marks seemed to be satisfied with motion gaming being a simple accessory saying: “I hope EyeToy will just become part of the platform.” But even then, he seemed focused on a bigger picture down the road: “In the future, games might even be able to recognize facial movements and incorporate that into the game.” Well, the future came, and after eight years of Marks working on everything critics said the EyeToy didn’t do, he returns to the table with a product that may change the future of gaming. He explains, “EyeToy was popular for the casual, social experience—but when we tried to go deeper it was difficult—we hit a wall. We were very limited fundamentally.” He then discusses the Move’s buttons and enhanced cameras as reasons for the difference this time around. “With PlayStation Move having so much more precision and fidelity, games will be able to leverage it better than anything we have seen before.”
His response brings us back to our initial questions: are the days of new consoles every six years dead? Is motion gaming the future? The first question is an easy answer—yes. A new PlayStation console isn’t going to hit stores for many years. Sony and Microsoft are focusing on perfecting what is out now before moving onto anything else. If the Move and Microsoft’s Kinect aren’t good enough reason, the PS3 and 360 have recently been redesigned and are now faster, slimmer, and quieter. As far as the future—motion gaming is definitely going to play a huge part in the future of videogames, but my personal opinion is that there will never be a day when you have to use motion-sensing technology to play games. I bought the Move the day it came out, and I play it often, but the traditional DualShock 3 still dominates my dorm room.
Bottom Line: there will always be different preferences with different gamers, and all PlayStation has done is, first, give the casual gamer a new experience, with far superior graphics and accuracy than the Wii and Kinect, and second, give the hardcore gamer the opportunity to venture into the world of motion gaming. As Kevin Butler so boldly proclaimed, “Deep down inside we all serve one master, one king, and his name is Gaming! FOREVER MAY HE REIGN!” I couldn’t have said it any better.