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Weighing the Controller Battle

Comparisons between the forthcoming Playstation Move and Kinect are inevitable. Both were demonstrated at E3 and both are treated as answers to Nintendo’s success with its breakthrough Wii controller. The Move, in a way, combines elements of all three consoles. It has the primary and secondary handheld controllers similar to the Wii, and the motion sensor “eye” technology of both the Wii and the Kinect. However, it has a prominent Playstation look about it, with the familiar x, circle, triangle, and square buttons. Sony reports that by having the buttons they are appealing more to the hardcore gamer than Microsoft is.

The Move definitely provides a more tactile experience than Kinect. While Kinect has the “wow” factor going for it, reports are that players have to contend with some lag time while the Move exhibits more precision. As for being hardcore, neither Sony’s nor Microsoft’s ads seem to speak to their traditional audiences.

Move and Kinect are being promoted with similar looking commercials, and both are reminiscent of Nintendo’s Wii ads. Whole families join together in their immaculate living rooms to engage in a wide range of gaming activities, from artistic to athletic. Kids smile at parents. Parents smile at kids. Where are the hardcore gamers in these ads? Nintendo struck gold by opening up the market saying, “Hey look, video games can be for anyone.” They were right of course, and their sales showed it. But if the development of these new motion sensing devices means that the Playstation is going to develop a whole new personality, will they alienate existing users? They have clearly been seeking to expand their audience with the “it only does everything” branding.

By Sony claiming that the Move is more hardcore maybe what they’re really saying is, “Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you, our bloodthirsty fans.” Most likely, each company will make the most of its new controller for the type of games it’s already known for. You’ll use the Wii controller to bowl and the Move to disembowel.

So it remains to be seen whether the Move or Kinect will cut into Nintendo’s market share. Move will have an edge, being released a bit earlier. It ships September 19, and the two controllers plus the eye can be preordered separately for around $120. A sports package goes for $99.99. The Kinect is shipping in November and runs $149.99.

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