Sony Delays Motion Control to Fall 2010

“Arc” Motion Controller to Miss Spring 2010 Release Date

January 20, 2010 Sony Computer Entertainment issued a press release today, indicating that the release date for its still unnamed motion control system (though rumored to be called Arc) has been moved from Spring 2010 to Fall 2010. In the press release President and Group CEO Kazou Hirai stated that, “”We have decided to release the Motion Controller in fall 2010 when we will be able to offer an exciting and varied line-up of software titles that will deliver the new entertainment experience to PS3 users, ” No other information explaining the reason for the delay was given.

It would seem just gleaming some sort of information from the quote that perhaps the delay is on the software and not the hardware side of things. Specifically, the fact that Hirai stated “fall 2010 when we will be able to offer an exciting and varied line-up” could indicate that enough developers would not be ready to release games at the original Spring date and thus the delay was necessary. After all, all the hardware in the world isn’t going to do any good if there isn’t sufficient software to accompany it.

The question is whether this is a big deal or not. The answer is probably not. While Sony would benefit from six months of uninterrupted market and public exposure before Microsoft enters the game that is not always a blessing. If the system is rushed and doesn’t work properly, Sony will have lost out completely on entering the motion control market. If it’s not rushed but still doesn’t work properly or catch on, they give Microsoft six months of essentially free market research to sift through and analyze making tweaks to Natal as they go. Microsoft gambled by being the first next gen console on the market, but was hit so resoundingly by the red ring of death (RROD) issues that despite still having a larger install base than Sony, those early issues negated much of the advantage of being ahead of the pack. Sony would do well to take more time to work out any potential issues with the system, and also use the extra time to showcase the possibilities (like at E3) and build more excitement. We’ve read and heard plenty about Natal, but outside of the E3 demo this past year, there has not been as much information about Sony and their motion control plans. Natal even made a brief appearance (albeit with very limited new information) at CES last week, while Sony’s wand-like motion controller was nowhere to be seen.

People seem to overestimate the potential impact of Natal and Arc (a tentative name, but for for purposes of this article we’ll go with it). Its unlikely that gamers will run out to buy a new console solely because of either of these two motion systems. And certainly those with strong allegiances toward either Microsoft or Sony aren’t going to be swayed either. Additionally, because these are added peripherals that at least until bundles are announced will have to be purchased in addition to a new console, they don’t have the ready made advantage that the Wii has. All in all, neither stacks up as a total game changer, rather its an attempt by both companies to stave off the flow of casual gamers toward Nintendo, and perhaps to excite their individual console bases to purchase more peripherals and games. Additionally, both of these motion controllers hint at the longer life-cycle of the individual consoles, something which both Sony and Microsoft have mentioned was a priority for them. Nintendo for the moment has cornered the motion control market so speed of release is really irrelevant for both Sony and Microsoft. With so much skepticism about both Natal and Arc, getting it right is much more important than getting it right now.

Source: Sony Computer Entertainment