Video game enthusiasts will soon be able to play a host of games that are not only motion controlled but also displayed in eye-popping 3-D, Sony executives said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
As the annual video game extravaganza known as E3 got underway Tuesday, Sony executives revealed that PlayStation 3 games such as “Killzone 3,” “The Sly Collection” and “NBA 2K11” will take advantage of two of today’s most cutting edge gaming technologies — stereoscopic 3-D and Sony’s motion control system called Move.
“When you pair 3-D with PlayStation Move the experience is unlike anything you’ve seen before,” said Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai. “It’s really the closest thing you will ever experience to being in the game itself.”
Sony has set out to champion 3-D gaming in homes and position the PlayStation 3 console as the place to do it. The company has already released a firmware update to its PS3 game machines making them capable of playing 3-D games right now. They’ve also already provided four games that can be downloaded from the PlayStation Network and played in 3-D (for those who happen to own a 3-D capable TV and associated glasses).
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Executives announced that there would be more than 20 3-D enabled games for the PS3 by next spring — among them “Gran Turismo 5,” which is launching Nov. 2. Among the other 3-D games that will be available from Sony and partner publishers: “MLB 10: The Show,” “MotorStorm: Apocalypse,” “Crysis 2,” “Tron Evolution” and “Shaun White Skateboarding.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Sony executives announced that their motion control system Move will arrive in North American stores on Sept. 19, in Europe on Sept. 15 and in Japan on Oct. 21.
“It’s no longer simply a question of how long you can be relevant in people’s lives, but how many ways you can be relevant in people’s lives,” said Jack Tretton, president of Sony Computer Entertainment America.
Moving with accuracy
PlayStation Move is made up of three parts — a wand controller, a navigation controller and the PlayStation Eye camera.
Sony said a single Move wand controller will cost $49.99 while the navigation controller will cost $29.99. For those who don’t have the PlayStation Eye camera (a previously released device), Sony will be selling a bundle that includes a wand controller, a camera and their “Sports Champions” motion game for $99.99.
Consumers who don’t yet own a PS3 will also be able to buy a bundle for $399.99 that includes the game machine, a wand controller and the camera.
At the press conference, Sony announced that between 15 and 20 Move-enabled games would be available at the launch date, and that they will be priced at $40. Sony also said some 40 motion-based games would be available by the holiday.
PlayStation Move will go head-to-head against Microsoft’s forthcoming motion control system called Kinect (scheduled to launch Nov. 4th) as well as Nintendo’s own groundbreaking motion controls already on the market. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Nintendo's motion controls have been criticized by many gamers for their lack of accuracy — something Nintendo has tried to address by selling a MotionPlus gadget that enhances the Wii Remote's sensing capabilities.
Though PlayStation Move controllers are distinctly similar in appearance to the Wii's, Sony's motion control package is proving to be far more precise.
As part of Tuesday’s event, Sony revealed a new third-person action-adventure title called “Sorcery” (available spring 2011) that allows gamers to play the role of a wizard and to wield their Move controller like they would a magic wand. The demonstration showed off just how accurate Sony’s controls are — with the on-screen character’s wand moving precisely along with the controller in the player’s hand.
As for Microsoft's Kinect controls for the Xbox 360, the system uses a camera/microphone sensor device to detect body movements and voice commands for game control. Unlike Sony and Nintendo's offerings, Kinect employs no handheld controller whatsoever.
Sony, on the other hand, announced a variety of motion-controlled PS3 games aimed not just at casual players but also at hardcore players and plenty of players in between. They touted the pet-simulation game “EyePet” along with “LittleBigPlanet 2.” But they also highlighted shooters like “Killzone 3,” setting out to prove that Move could be enjoyed by all kinds of players — something many avid gamers have doubted .
“Sony’s PlayStation Move is a true evolution in motion based gaming, finally allowing developers to create high-definition motion based games that target both the casual and core gaming audience,” said Jesse Divnich, a video game analyst with EEDAR.
New games, no new PSP
Beyond the big motion control and 3-D gaming news, Sony drew big cheers from the crowd when it revealed for the first time that a sequel to last year’s hit PS3 game " inFamous ” was in the works and that the “Twisted Metal” franchise would return to the PS3 as well.
And in a surprise appearance, Valve founder Gabe Newell showed up to introduce “Portal 2,” saying the PS3 version of the game, due in 2011, would be “the best version on any console.”
Though Sony did not announce a new PlayStation Portable device as many had predicted they would, they did announce that they would be kicking off a new marketing campaign to better put the handheld system (which has suffered from flagging sales) into the public spotlight. Sony brass also said that 70 new games would be available for the machine by the end of the year including the new “God of War: Ghost of Sparta” game and “Invizimals.”
Sony also announced that it would be launching a premium subscription service for its online PlayStation Network. PlayStation Plus will be available starting June 29. For $49.99 a year, Plus will let PlayStation Network users access exclusive games, full game trials and more.
But Tretton promised, “Existing features and services you enjoy today and have come to expect from PlayStation Network as part of your daily experience, will remain unchanged and free to access.”
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