Jamie MacDonald, the former VP of Sony Worldwide Studios who was responsible for bringing motion control to the home consoles as early as 2003 with EyeToy: Play on PS2, has warned that delivering affordable motion technology and compelling games will present a challenge for both his former employer and for Microsoft.
"I'm very much looking forward to the motion controllers from both Microsoft and Sony, as you might expect given my background with EyeToy: Play," said MacDonald, speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz. "The Natal games that I've seen look very interesting and I'm sure that Sony will come up with some great stuff, not least because of the motion control heritage they've got at London Studio where I was."
But there will be key challenges for both companies, said MacDonald. They will need to avoid simply replicating the sort of fun gamers can already experience on the Wii, because they are more powerful machines that people expect more from. But they'll also need to make sure they don't miss out on the casual audience altogether.
They'll also need to approach the design of motion games with a new focus - "We learnt really early on in the development of the EyeToy that you have to be careful - it's too physical for traditional long-form gameplay. You aren't going to stand there waving your arms around for two hours - you'd be completely knackered," he said.
"You have to take a different approach to game design, you have to use a different rhythm and focus to succeed in game design when using that kind of input."
The motion control technology will need to be "bulletproof" too, MacDonald added. "You can't risk breaking the player's suspension of disbelief so you don't want to get too leading edge with your technology because then it might break."
"But then there's a trade off between performance and the cost of goods - a consumer-friendly price point," he said.
"When I was at Sony, and I think it's still the case, the bundled EyeToy and SingStar games would come in at the top price point but [still the same] price of a triple A title - you weren't paying a premium for the hardware. And that worked well - but it only worked because the cost of goods was reasonable.
"I have no idea what the cost of goods are for those two new systems, but it'll be one of the challenges that I'm sure Sony and Microsoft are on top of. It's not trivial though, to design compelling games for these systems while, at the same time, making sure you've got the price points right."
The full interview with Jamie MacDonald, in which he also discusses the reason for his departure from Sony and his new focus on the casual gaming space, will be available on GamesIndustry.biz this week.