Sony busts out a brand-new Move

To counter the Wii system, Sony launched a rival called Move
Sony busts out a brand-new Move
Photograph by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc./ AP

It’s rarely a good sign when analysts and bloggers attach the suffix “-like” to your competitor’s product to describe your latest, cutting-edge innovation. But for Sony, which has finally unveiled a motion-sensor controller for its PlayStation 3 video game console—four years and 65 million units after Nintendo’s Wii first hit store shelves—“Wii-like” will have to do.

At a gaming event in San Francisco, Sony officially debuted the Move. Like the Wii, users hold the Sony controller in their hands and as they move, the game responds to their actions. But what sets Move apart is the PlayStation Eye camera, which tracks a glowing ball atop the controller and lets games better track your 3-D movements in space. The controller is due out later this year and will sell for around $100. Early reviews of the Move controller have been mixed. Some bloggers dismissed it as too little, too late, while others found it more refined than the Wii.

Still, for all the time Sony has had to come up with its response, many analysts seemed underwhelmed. Of course, the small matter of the Great Recession might explain why Sony has held off releasing its own motion controller until now—sales of video game consoles and games have been badly battered by the economic downturn.

But Sony has a good reason to get a move on Move. Later this year, Micro­soft will begin selling its own much anticipated motion control system, known as Project Natal. It involves no controllers whatsoever. Instead it relies on advanced infrared and motion-sensor technology so that players’ whole bodies become the controller. Microsoft even tapped director Steven Spielberg to unveil the device, prompting much speculation about hybrid movie-video games that star players in their own feature films.

Both the Move and Natal are still several months from launch, but already Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter has predicted Microsoft will outsell Sony five to one. Ultimately, Move may end up going nowhere.