With E3, once again the video game industry’s premier event for new product announcements, drawing near, rumors are starting to trickle onto the Internet as to what big announcements might be in store. I’m not interested in commenting on most of these until they’re actually made. The accuracy rate of pre-E3 speculation probably hovers right around the same statistical territory as the cumulative lifetime batting average of pitchers in Major League Baseball. But there are a couple of nuggets out there too big to ignore. They concern Sony and Microsoft, and possible plans to add robust motion controls to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Of the two rumors, the PS3 is the more believable, mostly because it’s the least radical. According to Variety’s Cut Scene blog, Sony’s rumored controller is the approximate shape of a Wii remote and sports several LED lights, which are read by a camera. This system reportedly has been in the works for a couple of years and will allow more accurate motion tracking than the Wii remote, although it’s tough to tell how the still-mythical device will stack up against Wii MotionPlus.
The new rumored Xbox 360 peripheral is a little more out there. According to Engadget, it’s a bar with two sensors, a camera and a microphone, and it can be used to play video games with your body. Instead of holding a controller, you’ll just kick, grab and generally contort yourself. Yeah, that sounds like a lot of work. But you’ll also be able to use subtler movements to grab, scroll and, yes, pinch. That’s right. “Marv Albert’s Pinch Out!” could soon be a reality.
If this thing, whatever it might be called, exists, it could have the potential to take gaming to yet another level, one that does away with controllers altogether. But it’s worth mentioning that rumors of a Microsoft motion controller last year turned out to be the motion-sensitive microphones used in the karaoke game “Lips.” And it’s worth mentioing that, outside of the 360’s excellent controllers, Microsoft hasn’t excelled at making gaming hardware. The Xbox Live Vision Camera hasn’t really risen above novelty status, and “TotemBall,” a game designed to use that device as a controller, flopped miserably. So get excited, but temper that excitement.