Can Move and Kinect save a sagging video game industry?
A new crop of games, led by PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect, steps up motion-sensing technology.
(Page 2 of 2)
Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Lazard Capital, says that traditional consolemakers are losing out to the creators of social-media games, cellphone games, and apps for tablets such as the Apple iPad. People are playing more games than ever, says Mr. Sebastian. "They're just not playing them all in front of their television," he says. "They're playing on their phones. They're playing on Facebook."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Sony and Microsoft are hoping that their next-generation motion-sensing devices will be enough to rip casual gamers away from their iPhones – while still appealing to experienced gamers who already own an Xbox or a PlayStation. Jesse Divnich, an executive with the California-based firm Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, predicts that the Kinect and Move will be vital to the fiscal health of the industry.
Microsoft and Sony certainly seem to be banking on a blockbuster holiday season. The companies have blanketed the Web with advertisements for the Kinect and the Move, focusing much of their marketing muscle on the platforms. And video-game studios are starting to play along, releasing a crop of titles that take advantage of motion-sensing technology.
"The Move may finally prove whether someone who plays a Killzone or fighting game can like motion gaming as much as their grandma likes to use motion gaming to bowl," says Stephen Totilo, deputy editor at the gaming blog Kotaku. "If Sony nails that and makes motion gaming cool for the traditional PlayStation gamer, that will be a big breakthrough. Kinect, on the other hand, has the potential to be the next Wii-like gaming device you wow your family with at Thanksgiving and that they then buy for Christmas."
So are we edging closer to the world envisioned so vividly in the movie "Minority Report" – where remotes and keyboards are obsolete, and everything on screen moves with a wave of a hand? Well, not so fast. Mr. Totilo wonders if the price points on the Kinect and Move could be prohibitively high for most families – and that, he says, "could kill all of this potential."
To a large extent, the future of the motion-sensing market is likely to depend on the quality of the games associated with the motion-sensing peripherals. Yanier Gonzalez, the founder and editor of the popular gaming website Destructoid, says that there aren't currently "any killer apps for either the Move or Kinect. Both were playable at this year's Penny Arcade Expo" – a video-game conference held in Seattle and Boston – "and the consensus seemed to be 'I've already done this on the Wii, though this is nice in full HD,' "says Mr. Gonzales.
He is not alone. In the months since the Kinect and the Move were first announced, gaming blogs and forums have been flooded with complaints from traditional gamers who worry that companies are putting too much emphasis on overly simplistic or formulaic motion games. They would prefer that Sony and Microsoft – and the major gaming studios – concentrate on the meat-and-potatoes of the industry: the big, sprawling, expensive-to-make-and-expensive-to-buy titles.
But Christopher Grant, the editor in chief of Joystiq, a gaming website, sees no reason why committed gamers couldn't, in the future, have both good games and motion control. "As hyperbolic and outspoken as gamers may be, there's one truth behind all of it: They like good games," he says. "If those good games use motion controls, you'll see that 'sedentary' gamer leap out of his recliner in no time. It's not a lifestyle issue, it's a quality issue."