It's Sony's Move

Ben Parfitt
It's Sony's Move

Move is a major new member of the PlayStation 3 family, but it isn’t designed to reinvent the format.

Whereas Microsoft views Kinect as a rebirth for its Xbox 360, Sony sees Move more as an add-on – another reason to buy a PS3 alongside 3D, Blu-ray and PSN.

And who can blame them? The momentum is with PlayStation 3 at the moment, sales have continued to rise since the new slim PS3 hit the market last year – so why risk it all by switching focus onto a new controller?
For Sony, Move is about continuing that momentum. And, hopefully, persuading those PS2 owners to upgrade to the new console.

“There is a lot of latent interest from PlayStation 2 owners who have yet to upgrade, and we hope PlayStation Move can provide that extra tipping point, along with Blu-ray playback and all the extra functionality PlayStation 3 has,” says SCE UK marketing manager Adam Boita.

Of course, the main target audience for Sony is this new casual gamer introduced to the market by Wii and DS.

In fact, Sony’s UK marketing team has taken a leaf directly out of Nintendo’s book. Move’s retail tour focuses on Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, and not GAME and HMV. In terms of print advertising, the specialist press has been left out in favour of lifestyle magazines and national newspapers. For Sony, Move isn’t a product that will see huge pre-order numbers – but one that will sell and sell and sell in the months and years to come. Just like Wii.

Boita adds: “Pre-orders are always important, but Move is not necessarily a pre-order product. It’s about the long-term. It’s not like Halo or a World of Warcraft expansion pack, where people want to get it day one. It is an evergreen product. And whereas pre-orders are very important, it is not necessarily the key focus.”

WHAT ABOUT THE CORE?

Just because the initial launch is somewhat lacking in core titles (the big day one games include Start the Party and Sports Champions), Sony is still keen to cater to the elite gaming audience, too.

Move-compatible LittleBigPlanet 2, Dead Space: Extraction, Killzone 3 and SOCOM 4 are all on Sony’s release schedule, with internal studios tasked with developing titles for both hardened and casual audiences. But isn’t it a complicated task creating products for two totally different markets?

“I don’t think it has been hard at all,” says Michael Denny, the senior VP of SCE Wordwide Studios in Europe.

“I think it has been exciting. When you give development teams a new piece of hardware to work with like Move, the creativity levels go up. The beauty of what we have with Move is that it can appeal across the board in terms of genres and games.

“We have some of the teams working on new experiences and party-based titles like Start the Party or TV Superstars. But then we’ve given it to existing teams within existing franchises, and we can now see what the guys at Guerrilla are doing with it and the guys making SOCOM are doing. I think there will be a wide variety of experiences that comes with Move.”

Another element sure to interest the core audience is how Move can work with 3D. Games such as Killzone 3, Virtua Tennis 4 and The Fight all combine 3D visuals with Move controls, and Sony feels this adds an entirely new level of immersion to the experience.

“3D in itself is one of those added features we can give now to the right games,” continues Denny.

“And compared with movies, the interactive nature of games can make 3D even more immersive. And when you combine that with the Move controller, you are able to judge distances and feel part of the action in games like The Fight.

“I think it is choosing the right games, be it Move controls or DualShock games. But 3D can add a lot of immersion to many titles.”

MOVING THE GOALPOSTS

So Move has the ability to please those core fans as well as appeal to this new social gaming audience, but isn’t going after two audiences a risky strategy? Could Move become a jack-of-all-trades master of none?

Denny doesn’t think so: “We have our own clear strategy. When you go back to PlayStation 2 and the experience we had with EyeToy Play – that was fantastic for bringing in the more casual audience, but we were limited to how many different things we could do without accurate control.

“So this time round with Move, we have the camera, augmented reality, high definition graphics and we also have the precision and accuracy of the controller. We can do many different things with that controller. I think it is about the implementation of that into specific games. So no, our strategy is very clear and we are very confident that we have the games that will appeal to the different consumers.”

With just a few days until Move reaches shelves, we’ll learn soon enough if the device can live up to Sony’s ambitions. We have played with Move and it even impressed the cynics at MCV, the games do look impressive. And with £750,000 being spent on week one marketing, the support is there. It’s just a case now as to whether there is enough demand to shift units.

“I think we not only have the right platform with Move, but we’ve got the right games to support it,” says Denny.

“The excitement is building. And when you play the demos now I think people can see the experience that there is for Move.

“We are more than confident that Move will be a major addition to the PlayStation 3 family.”

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