PlayStation 3's motion controller coming this fall

The new controller will hit the market at about the same time as Microsoft's Project Natal

Sony will launch worldwide a motion controller for its PlayStation 3 in the fall of this year alongside an "extensive" line-up of compatible software titles, it said Wednesday.

Its launch will come about four years after Nintendo revolutionized gaming with its Wii console and motion-sensitive controllers, and shortly before Microsoft is expected to introduce a similar system for the Xbox 360.

Sony's controller, a prototype of which has already been demonstrated, has a glowing ball mounted on its end that is tracked by the PlayStation Eye camera, which will be a requirement for the system. Few other details are known about the device at present and it's only been shown a few times since its debut at last year's E3 gaming convention.

Motion-sensitive gaming proved to be key to the success of Nintendo's Wii with casual gamers and both Sony and Microsoft are hoping their new systems will be equally successful.

The Wii controller can be swung like a bat or jabbed like a punch and the movements are copied on-screen. This unique way of gaming proved to be more attractive to some than the flashy, high-definition graphics on offer from the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Microsoft's system, called Project Natal, seems more advanced than both the Sony and Nintendo systems because it does away with the controller completely. The gamer's actual body movements are detected and mimicked inside the games so punches, kicks and jumps are translated immediately into movements. Microsoft plans to launch Natal in time for the end-of-year holiday sales period.

Sony offered little other details of its launch plans and didn't name any of the games that will be compatible with the Motion Controller.

"We will continue to work to have a comprehensive portfolio of attractive and innovative games for the Motion Controller, not only from Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios but also from the third-party developers and publishers, whom we have been working closely with," Kazuo Hirai, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, said in a statement. "We look forward to soon unveiling the exciting software line-up that further expands and defines the PS3 platform as the ultimate entertainment system for the home."

The year is shaping up to be an important one for PlayStation 3 owners.

Sony is aggressively promoting 3D entertainment and the PlayStation console will play an important part in the push. The company has already promised to add 3D capability to all PS3 consoles through a firmware, and several companies are working on 3D games. It will, however, be necessary to buy a compatible television to enjoy games with the additional dimension.

Sales of the console have recently enjoyed an uptick after Sony launched a revised model that's smaller and cheaper than the original PlayStation 3. The console saw record sales in the last five weeks of 2009 with 3.8 million units sold worldwide, a 76 percent jump on 2008, Sony said earlier this month.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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