MacDonald: Motion control will present challenge for Sony and MS

EyeToy's creator says getting price points, games and technology right is "not trivial"

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 "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 this week.

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Latest comments (2)

Joseph Marlow Blogger 12 years ago
His sentiments are absolutely spot on and it will be interesting to see how Sony and Microsoft eye each other leading up to launch with regard to price points. Obviously Sony will take the lead as they are first and already have the Eye to bundle up to increase penetration.

It'll be good to get past the launch titles though when we'll be able to see what developers can really do with the tech.
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Private Industry 12 years ago
Still not sure about the motion controllers from a non casual gamer point of view. From a hardware sales of view Nintendo showed how well it works for casual gamers, but if I look at 3rd Party software sales and non casual games then motion control didn`t do much so far in those areas.

I have confidence in the 1st and 2nd Party developers, but the 3rd Party developers will show if motion control is going to keep going or not and if they just try to make a quick buck by throwing out some mini game collections or actually make deep games specifically designed for those input devices. Don`t think that at the moment 360 and PS3 are casual gamer consoles (compared to Wii) so 3rd party devs would also need to get the sales of non casual gamers to get something out of it. Maybe some ports from Wii might work, there are some very good games that are not aimed at the causal gamer crowed and suffered from very low sales.

For the time being I still rather stick to my good old controller or mouse and keyboard.
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