Monday, June 15, 2009

Wii-Mote competition from Sony, Microsoft on the way

I was surprised it took Microsoft and Sony – which both recently announced motion-based controllers – so long to respond to industry-leading Nintendo's Wiimote.

Nintendo's motion-sensitive controller has become so popular that nongamers are buying Wiis and Wii Fits for the novelty and for the fitness benefits.

But competition is on the horizon:

Microsoft plans to deliver a hands-free controller system called “Project Natal.” It allows gamers to use their hands and body to control Xbox 360 games and movies without touching a controller, a definite one-up to Nintendo's Wiimote.

With the Wiimote, if you want to throw a ball, for instance, you hold the controller and make a throwing motion. With Microsoft's new system, you can do the same thing just by making the motion.

If this works, it'll be the biggest video-game breakthrough since the original Sony PlayStation introduced us to realistic-looking graphics. The release date is up in the air, but expect the system to cost about $100.

Sony's new motion controller is a lot more traditional. It's a handheld device that resembles a wand with a ball at the end. It will use the PlayStation EyeToy to track the ball to capture motion as you play. Sony says gamers will be able to write or draw using the wand, due to increased sensitivity. It's due early next year.


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