It wasn’t so long ago that the industry was obsessed with motion controls. Believe it or not, PlayStation Move and Kinect were the key topics of discussion in 2010, with both Sony and Microsoft locked in battle over the affection of the casual gamer. But while the PlayStation 3’s saucily shaped solution never quite managed to match the success of its closest competitor, it still shipped an impressive 15 million units during its first two years on the market. The question is: are motion controls still important to the PlayStation 4?
We can already assume that the Kinect will play a big part in Microsoft’s upcoming console plans. Rumours suggest that the Xbox 360’s successor will ship with an enhanced version of the depth tracking sensor, making it a pivotal part of the next generation platform. Bundling the peripheral will ensure that the manufacturer gets more use out of the unit – but is that necessarily what consumers want?
Ask any core gamer and they’ll give you an emphatic response. Motion controls have become the punching bag of the industry over the past few years, with message boards and parts of the media lamenting the inaccuracies of the solutions on offer. However, few can deny that they’ve been a strong source of revenue, with the Nintendo Wii in particular profiting from an audience traditionally terrified by the prospect of playing video games.
As the industry grows, appealing to a larger demographic is becoming increasingly important. There is a narrative that suggests that Sony should target its next system at core gamers and core gamers only, but we’re not entirely convinced that we agree. Games like God of War and Uncharted will always appeal to a broad subset of the market, but they will never encourage families to part with their cash. As such, the PS4 will need to find new ways to find its way into casual consumers’ homes.
Of course, it’s rumoured that the system will ship with an upgraded PlayStation Eye, tentatively dubbed the ‘Dual Camera’. According to leaks, the peripheral will include a pair of wide-angle lenses, supposedly capable of capturing images at 720p. The upgrade will apparently allow the device to perform precise head and hand tracking, though it’s unlikely to replicate the depth qualities of the Kinect. The unit will also purportedly possess four microphones, providing it with the option to execute more menial tasks such as voice recognition.
While the camera alone will probably be adequate for most casual compilations, it may suffer from the absence of the Kinect’s infrared sensors. But that’s where the recent PS4 controller's prototype leak is so interesting. As previously reported, the handset features a light on the upper surface of the device, which could be used in a similar fashion to the existing PlayStation Move. The primary problem with the solution is that it will require the controller to be held at a particular angle to operate, but perhaps with the combination of improved accelerometers, Sony has found a way around this rather obvious issue.
Irrespective of the solution, we firmly believe that motion controls need to be an option. Sony will not want to give Microsoft and Nintendo free reign of the casual market, and thus it will require a solution of its own. While the popularity of franchises such as Just Dance and Zumba may have diminished in recent years, the idea of PS4 not offering those experiences at all is simply unthinkable. Consumers will need to know that the system is capable of playing a wide spectrum of games, and not just those that involve placing crosshairs over burly foes.
Of course, there’s nothing that says motion controls can’t be well implemented into core games, too. If the platform holder has managed to successfully marry the functionality of a traditional controller with the accuracy of the PlayStation Move, then we could see some interesting supplementary mechanics being incorporated into games. Imagine thrusting the device forward to push a switch, or using the unit as a pointer to quickly select items from a menu. Both are gimmicky ideas, for sure, but combined with the controller’s rumoured touchpad, we’re sure that more intelligent designers will happen upon some interesting ideas.
What’s most important is that the functionality is on offer for those that want it. We don’t expect motion controls to play a particularly prominent role in the PS4’s launch offering, but we think that it would be an oversight if the system didn’t ship with some sort of solution built in. The market is simply too large to ignore the requirements of mainstream gamers, and products such as the Wii have proven that motion is a method for drawing them in.
Do you want motion controls to play a part in the PS4? (31 votes)
Yes, I like to move it
I'm not really fussed either way
Keep your cameras and wands away from me
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