Between the PlayStation Eye, up to four Move controllers, some unnamed quantity of sub-controllers, and your hooligan friends, the combinations and uses are pretty endless. Here are some configurations that are possible off the top of our heads: we're sure there are others, but this should get your imagination going:
- Single Move controller: This is the most basic setup, and how the controller will be sold as a kit: PlayStation Eye, Move controller, and game.
- Dual Move controllers: We saw a ton of examples of this in videos and in actual games we tested, so prepare to spring for a second Move controller right away. Luckily, many of the dual-controller games seemed to have a mode where you can control them with a single controller, but that sounds pretty sub-optimal.
- Move controller + PlayStation Eye: Obviously everything uses the Eye for detecting motion, but we also saw some games like Move! Party (a working title) and EyePet that rely heavily on the Eye. Uses include capturing your face and mapping it to a character, giving you a 3D prop but otherwise displaying the full video feed, and voice commands (there's built-in mic on the Eye).
- Move controller + sub-controller: We've only seen this demoed with SOCOM 4 so far, and we get the feeling that Sony is going to reserve this more complicated, optional controller for its core gamers. Since there's no way to track the motion of the sub-controller, movement possibilities are also reduced compared to a dual Move controller setup.
- Move vs. Move, or Dual Move vs. Dual Move: This is where it should get really fun / dangerous. Two people swinging two Move controllers around wildly. We're guessing four player games will be possible as well with one person holding one Move each, but we didn't see any demoed.
Sony says that most games need configuration before each play. Luckily, it's a pretty painless process, but it also depends on your setup and the game. For instance, some Move games require a "wingspan check" where you hold one controller out to the side with your arm fully extended, and then hold it near your belt. Some dual Move games have this sort of "magnetic" pairing setup, where you place both controllers side by side and point them at the screen, and they rumble as if attracted to one another. For a shooter like SOCOM there's a screen that lights up one center edge of the screen at a time and asks you to point there. For all games you're supposed to stand about two or three yards away from the screen and center yourself on the PlayStation Eye. We don't know if the PlayStation Eye can be placed either above or below the screen, but in all the setups we saw it was placed right above the TV.
In a way, Sony is only ready to show tech demos at this point, to let people know that Move works and how it works, so it's understandable that the games were pretty scarce and rough around the edges. We're promised much more to come, and some more blockbuster-style stuff for 2011. Below is a quick rundown of the games we've seen:
Move Party (working title):
A minigame collection that uses a lot of augmented reality and bizarre situations to delight, entertain, and eventually bore you. Check out Joystiq's impressions
Sports Champions (working title):
It's like Wii Sports, but in HD! We didn't see all the games, but we know that at least table tennis (single Move, multiplayer is possible) a gladiator game (dual or single Move) and archery (dual Move, probably single Move, it's unclear). Check out Joystiq's impressions
It's a FPS, much akin to a traditional Wii FPS control setup, though with a bit more sensitivity for pointing off screen for camera movement. Uses Move controller + sub-controller. Check out Joystiq's impressions
A terrifying minigame collection involving tons of facemapping that we're avoiding at all costs. Steer clear of Joystiq's gallery
Some really bizarre, truly Japanese game where an office worker and a rolling deskchair slide improbably through a cityscape. We haven't seen it in action yet, but we're dying to. Joystiq has a gallery
An on-rails shooter using a single Move controller, with a few motion gimmicks like a spin attack. Was not only unimpressive, but also relatively laggy. We'll be avoiding. Check out Joystiq's impressions
Motion Fighter (working title):
A very visceral, "gritty" underground boxing game that uses Dual Move controllers. We didn't get to play this, but the demo we saw on stage was pretty impressive, including putting an opponent in a headlock and punching their face with the mere power of mime. Joystiq has a gallery
A PlayStation Eye game that's already available in Europe, but will launch in the US with Move, replacing its card-tracking interface with a Move controller. Joystiq has more info
Brunswick Pro Bowling:
We didn't see this in action, but we can guess how it goes down.
Most of these from what we can tell are slated to launch when PlayStation Move launches this fall. You can follow the rest of Joystiq's coverage here
, and check out our hands-on impressions with the games / controllers here
So, now that you know what it is, when can you buy it? It's slated for a "holidays" launch, which could mean any number of things, but we're guessing Sony's going to want this out not long after November. Unfortunately, Sony has a pretty bad track record with launching stuff on time; PlayStation Move was originally slated for Spring, for instance. Obviously they "have" to get it out for the holidays with Microsoft's Natal launching in a similar time frame, but there's always the danger of a last minute hiccup, and we're not going to put too much stock in projected dates until it's really out.
Pricing details are a little more firm, with a sub-$100 kit slated to bring people the core experience of a PlayStation Eye, Move controller and game (we're guessing Move Party or Sports Champions, though there's no confirmation of either). There will also be a PS3 bundle with all those elements, some high-profile games will be bundled with Move, and you can of course buy each element separately -- perfect for someone who already owns a PlayStation Eye. There isn't any word on prices for separate components, but that's going to be a huge factor in this platform's success -- which we're sure Sony knows as well as anybody. The beauty of Natal is that you buy it and you're set, no extra peripherals needed, no matter how many players you add.
In all, what we saw here at GDC is a very early incarnation of PlayStation Move. While we doubt the controller will change before launch, Sony even has disclaimers on its press images saying that "design and specifications are subject to change without notice," so anything's possible. All the software, meanwhile, was labeled "pre-alpha," and we really think they mean it. Nothing was feature complete, most games had lag and frame rate hiccups, and we kept hearing "we might be adding that" when asking about specific features. It was a true tech demo, and we are sincerely impressed by the technology, despite the issues. However, at the end of the day Sony's going to have to show up for its little battle with Natal with some serious gaming firepower, and tight, refined experiences. There's a clear learning curve for developers when it comes to motion controlled gaming that was somewhat forgivable with the Wii at launch, but a few years in we're frankly expecting perfection, no matter how "unfair" that might be. There aren't enough pieces for our hearts to break into if this turns into another SIXAXIS debacle.