So, raise your hand if you thought Media Molecule was actually showing off a game during Sony’s “Future of PlayStation” press event in New York? For those of you who just now realized they didn’t, don’t worry – pretty much everybody was a little perplexed too.
It’s no surprise that Sony put arguably its most creative studio to work trying to sell the PlayStation Move – or rather the idea and promise of it – unless you are surprised they showed any significant amount of support at all. The five minute long video, though certainly charming, proved to be one of the few lulls in the otherwise fascinating event. Was this a necessary ploy by Sony to encapsulate a sort of ‘cover the bases’ mentality for the upcoming PS4, or does the company truly believe the Move has yet untapped potential?
Sony has proven to be a stubborn company in many regards. Take 3D movies for example: the amount of people who openly criticize and bemoan 3D in its greedily overpriced nature and myriad of viewing hindrances doesn’t change the fact that by all accounts those movies are profitable; and let’s not forget that Sony is pushing its 3D TV’s very hard. Last year, Sony execs were quoted saying they were very happy with the sales of the motion control peripheral, stating it had an attach rate of one Move for every six PS3’s – though likely this was an exaggeration of the numbers. While there hasn’t been a vocal outcry against the Move, there definitely has been a lukewarm reception to the vast majority of its games. How many people would care if the Move ceased to even exist?
However, that apathy towards the Move might change as more potential PS4 buyers realize that the motion controller will be supported by Sony’s next gen console while the DualShock 3 won’t. This decision makes perfect sense; Sony likely doesn’t believe it can sell the Move all over again while moving the default console controllers is a different story.
Another reason to believe Sony’s support of the Move is monetarily inspired is its competition. The Wii reached a segment of gamers yet untouched in the industry in 2006 – the casual player. Moms, dads and grandparents all purchased Wii’s, and an apparent gaming revolution ensued. Microsoft answered the boom in Wii’s motion control popularity by creating Kinect for the Xbox. Meanwhile, Sony developed the Move. Even though mobile gaming and browser based social games have engulfed the industry, it seems all three major players still think the casual market is important enough to build casual into their systems. The Wii U has the GamePad and is generally marketed for younger gamers; Sony has a Sixaxis and Move-like functionality built into the DualShock 4 (though to what extent we don’t know yet); Microsoft reportedly has Kinect integrated into the next Xbox and will require it to function for the console to operate.
“The R&D Department hard at work…or play.”
One thought sticks in my mind though: in a two hour presentation largely spent trumpeting the PS4 and some of the software coming to it, why would Sony spend any time on the Move of all things? I doubt they felt the video would drum up anticipation for the Move just by being in the presentation, though I am glad it was more concise than the frustratingly boring Wonderbook E3 showing. It was an odd intermission of sorts. It’s like Sony said, “Hey, remember this thing? Look how cool it can be.”
I think that’s what is most interesting, but also harrowing. The Move has been out almost three years now, and suddenly we’re supposed to be sold on it because professional animators sculpted some cute figures and made them rock back and forth to rock-n-roll? However, a few surprisingly interesting notes from that video may imply the answer would be yes.
For one, although Media Molecule obviously has tremendously talented animators and designers, the fact that they made hundreds of sculpted models seems a waste if only for a short tech demo. I’m not trying to insinuate that it directly ties into a game they might be working on; but I will say it wouldn’t surprise me if the assets were used or at least the basic premise of the demo was a glimpse into what they are crafting. Even more intriguing, to me at least, is how accurate the Move really can be. Though it was stated in the presentation by Media Molecule co-founder Alex Evans that the Move is amazingly accurate, the subtle accentuation of that point by showing sculptures being made in real-time (well, fast forwarded real-time) really made quite an impression on me. The last idea presented by Media Molecule is a shared world where every sculpture made could be used to create your vision – or dream as they put it – and even bring motion to it, which is appropriate all things considered. It was made with a motion controller after all.
“I’m pretty sure they do make their dreams. It’s called LittleBigPlanet.”
These themes are all at the foundation of what LittleBigPlanet is: creativity and community. I’ll not suggest that Media Molecule subversively showcased the beginning of the next title they are working on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their next game had the same principals as the tech demo.
Regardless, despite the peculiar timing of the tech demo, the more I think about it the more the exciting potential of the Move creeps up on me. I’ve never been one to give up the traditional familiarities of a simple controller; but while my heart will always remain transfixed on the pure genius of the DualShock 4, my head, where all the creative stuff flows from, is enraptured by the possibilities of the PlayStation Move. Whether it’s specifically for the next game from Media Molecule, or to satisfy my own inner child, I might find myself saying something I never thought I would have: I’m genuinely excited to see what’s next for the PlayStation Move.
Now, raise your hand if you’re excited like I am.