Surprise surprise. Another E3, another crazily hyped Sony press conference, and another year of bizarre announcements from Sony. It's really no wonder everyone has started to love to hate Sony. Sony announced that they will be including motion sensors in their "new" PS3 controller -- which looks identical to the PS2 controller (no more boomerang). Sony's "innovation" is being heavily questioned as this is pretty much a direct rip-off of the Nintendo concept controller. This is rather surprising, but not too surprising as Sony has been making claims for having every feature of every other console and then 1-uping them. The other strange consequence of this announcement is that Microsoft's 360 is now the only console that has controllers that do not have motion sensing. I wonder if we have anything up our sleeves in the arena of new interactivity with the console.
We'll have to wait and see I suppose. Sony is notorious for overpromising and underdeliveriong. Sony does, however, have a rather ravenous base of fans, the ability to market and design incredibly well, and an insanely ubiquitous install base with their PS2 and PSP. I for one still have a sour taste in my mouth from the over-hyped Dreamcast-killing PS2 though and hope to see Nintendo and Microsoft move ahead of Sony this generation.
Looks like Kotaku and Microsoft aren't the only ones thoroughly underwhelmed by the Sony press conference. Over at the Guardian Gamesblog, Greg Howson has posted up his thoughts on the PS3 press conference, describing it as a "muddled mess that essentially confirmed widespread rumours of a problematic PS3 launch build-up." Our impression exactly.
Howson dismisses the new Playstation 3 controller almost entirely:
The biggest surprise was the controller. Not the style - which was revealed beforehand to anyone who watched the "hand-cam" shots used to prove the games shown were actually being played - but the motion sensor inclusion that lets you control by tilting the pad. A rather unconvincing demo was shown with the developer of Warhawk playing his game in a style familiar to anyone who has ever handed their pad to their parent. Quite how sensitive and practical this will be remains to be seen. Despite the undoubted technical achievement of putting this all in a traditional sized dualshock pad you couldn't help think Nintendo, even if the controllers use different technologies. There was even an Xbox style button in the middle of the pad. Imitation is the sincerest form etc, but from a company who lead the games industry to such a degree it was surprising to see this amount of respect for their competitors.
But that's just it, isn't it? Sony's lost the edge, letting Microsoft and Nintendo set the tone for the upcoming generational console battle. The Playstation 3 has been a debacle from the beginning... without a clear strategy and with constant production issues, Sony seems to be buckling in to imitate its more innovative competitors, in the hope this generation won't entirely fly by them. With so much half-assed copying of innovative features like Live's online support and Wii's motion-sensitive controller, Sony's claim that the next generation doesn't start until they say it does now sounds just like what it always was — empty boasting.
PS3 Conference Letdown [Guardian Gamesblog]