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Sony Wand

Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2009-10-16 08:41:11

Sony Wand

Thus far, I'm unimpressed by the Sony magic wand twirlymabob thingy. Basically, it's a stick with buttons on it that the PlayStation 3 will be able to track through three dimensional space. A few features distinguish it from the Nintendo Wiimote.

First, a ball on the end of it glows. Different colors even. I'm sure this will mesh with Dynasty Warriors 9 Xtreme Rave Edition quite well. It could also attempt to suggest the muzzle flash of a firearm in shooters. Clever developers could work this feature into amusing gimmicks, but I don't anticipate it contributing meaningfully to the advancement and innovation of videogames.

Second, instead of a simple sensor bar, the wand requires the Sony EyeToy to track movement. So far, Sony hasn't provided a compelling enough reason to purchase that thing, and I don't know that the wand will be sufficient either. I hate extra plastic junk, especially expensive extra plastic junk. And it's never a good idea to split your consumer base. The PlayStation 3, despite its recent price drop, is still a pricey enough proposition without adding in additional peripherals. Developers will be forced to program for both the haves and have nots, and that generally results in less than optimal products for both groups.

I keep wondering if Microsoft's Natal will win me over eventually. It sounds pricey as well. I'm only holding onto a sliver of hope for it because it has tremendous potential. But that just makes it difficult for developers, unless Microsoft can provide simple-to-use, powerful, extensive tools for them to work off of. The PlayStation 3, as a piece of hardware, is technically impressive with a ton of potential, but years after release, programmers are still trying to wrestle the thing into submission.

I also think Sony might have a point, that motion controls or no, we still need to hold an object in our hands. Otherwise, the lack of tactile feedback could break the game experience. I don't want to hold my hands in the air as if I'm working a steering wheel; I want an actual steering wheel (which ironically brings me into conflict with my desire NOT to purchase expensive extra plastic junk). I know Natal allows you to grab objects and scan them into games, but having buttons on controllers is definitely convenient.

The Sony Wand probably has a greater chance of achieving commercial success. But it's just a gimmick that we've been semi-enjoying in the Nintendo Wii for several years now. Nintendo was genius in abandoning "hardcore" gamers and creating a new market to dominate. Their plan of NOT competing with Sony and Microsoft paid off handsomely. Now, Sony is trying to enter that Nintendo owned market. G'luck.

Natal is another animal all together. It might just be too out there to succeed, but it definitely has a MUCH higher ceiling for true innovation. It might even become it's own platform. It's a USB device, so it's not specifically tied to the Xbox 360. I could easily envision a future update for Windows to incorporate Natal. Xerox/Apple revolutionized computer interfaces with the mouse. Microsoft could conceivably do the same by delivering a Minority Report-esque system.

Ahhh, pipe dreams.

Signing off to figure out what soft foods won't break the stitches in my mouth. Theyth bwood dwibbwing fwom my mouf.

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