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Moving On

Just who is expected to buy this year's new motion controllers?

It is no great surprise that, despite Microsoft's slowly building focus on Natal, Sony is likely to beat it to market with its PlayStation Move motion controller. The noise and heat generated by the rumbling PR campaigns behind both technologies occasionally mask the reality - that this is, on one level, a battle between a company usually seen as a technological imitator which has unexpectedly taken on the mantle of cutting-edge innovator, and a firm which has prided itself on high-end engineering R&D suddenly embracing the "disruptive" ideal by employing cheap, tried-and-tested technology.

Both companies are arguably outside their comfort zones. Natal is technologically ambitious, which is not something Microsoft attempts often. PS Move is a low-cost, robust approach, which is equally alien to the neophiliac, technology-obsessed culture which has dominated Sony for decades. Even with both firms playing away games, however, Move's simpler technology was always likely to be first to market, and may well end up sporting the cheaper price tag of the two.

Does this matter? Probably not. It's yet to be confirmed whether Move actually will beat Natal to market (this is simply the relatively sane assumption that's being drawn from Sony's bombastic GDC performance this week), but even if it does, it's likely to be only by a handful of weeks, since Sony has committed itself to "autumn" and Microsoft to "before Christmas".

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Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.
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