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Sony shows off PS3 motion-control magic wand

Great tech, but too late?

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Hot on the heels of Microsoft's hands-free 'Project Natal', Sony showed off its own motion controller today at its E3 press conference. And that means all three major video game consoles will offer a motion control gadget.

Playstation Motion Control, which is still in the prototype stage, is a wireless wand topped with a color-changing orb that can be tracked by the PS3's EyeToy camera.

The wand seems to be more of a direct answer to Nintendo's Wii remote than the alternative route to motion control taken by Microsoft. With an analog trigger and an unspecified number of buttons, the stick showed impressive one-to-one mapping that appears to rival or perhaps even outdo the Wii's upcoming MotionPlus peripheral.

The orb on top can also be used for optical tracking similar to Hollywood-style motion-capture. For example, when you hold the wand up to the camera, users would see themselves holding a sword or tennis racket on-screen.

Live tech demos on stage showed sophisticated control through a gamut of archery, tennis, and swordplay minigames. More impressive was using two wands together to fire a virtual bow and arrow, and using the want to write with extremely high precision.

Sony Computer Entertainment America chief Jack Tretton called the Motion Control "technology that's much closer to real life than anything you've ever seen," adding that we'll be hearing a lot more about it later. The tech is scheduled to be released in 2010.

The hardware conglom also officially revealed the slim-design PSP Go, which had its thunder stolen yesterday thanks to a leaked promotional video ®

Bootnote

As impressive as the Sony and Microsoft motion-control tech appears to be, El Reg is going to tell you why both are doomed to fail.

The primary rule in the game console biz is to get third-party developers to support the platform. This can't happen with either motion control regimes because;

1) They weren't shipped with the console at launch. No sane developer is going to risk ruining a game's potential appeal to the public at large by making it only playable by those who've purchased a bonus (and potentially expensive) gadget.

There will be doubtlessly be niche games supporting the tech, but no major title will limit itself to a motion-control only scheme on the PS3 and 360. Devs will instead gear a game for the regular controller that everyone is guaranteed to have and perhaps opt to tack on motion-control as afterthought.

2) There are now three consoles with completely disparate motion control schemes. If you can't make a game easily ported to all three, you'll probably limit yourself to just one. And chances are you'll pick the console with the enormous user base guaranteed to have the right equipment: the Nintendo Wii.

Top three mobile application threats

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