Gaming: Nintendo's DS2 in dev's hands, Sony's Motion Controller at GDC
There're a few tidbits for gamers in the news recently. After all, gaming's rumor season is starting up (it comes right after gaming's empty-your-wallet-on-holiday-titles season) with the Game Developers Conference in a few weeks, E3 in June and, for the first time, PAX East happening towards the end of March.
The first story is about Nintendo's rumored DS2 (not to be confused with the large-screened DSi LL that is out in Japan and coming to North America later this year, presumably). The story making the rounds is that a few game developers have prototype hardware in their hands now, and that Nintendo is requesting feedback from those working with it. CVG has the story, including this quote from an unnamed developer working with the hardware:
"It's genuinely the best thing I think I've ever worked with," he said. "I can tell you that it's got a 'tilt' function that's not dissimilar to iPhone, but does a lot more. We know that The Pokemon Company are getting special attention with it."
A tilt function is all well and good, but I'd rather hear about what's powering the device. Earlier rumors pointed at the Nvidia Tegra 2, but this latest story doesn't offer any further details. The source did say that the DS2 would likely not be shown at GDC, so presumably we'll have to wait for June & E3.
I also have to wonder if the time of dedicated handheld gaming devices isn't winding down. Mind you, I still like hardware buttons over touch screens for gaming, but I'm started to feel like odd man out in that respect (and to be perfectly honest my handhelds rarely leave the house; I just like them because they tend to have quirky games). Will our iPhone/Zune/Android/Windows Phone 7 offer us enough mobile gaming to keep us happy by the time Nintendo can get a DS2 out on store shelves? I think for a lot of us, the answer will be yes. There're still plenty of younger gamers and adults who forgo smartphones and advanced music players who might still want to play handheld games, but presumably that demographic is fairly price conscious. Can Nintendo launch a new DS at a low enough price point to appeal to these consumers? We'll have to wait and see.
The other news is more concrete. At the Game Developers Conference (and specifically, on March 11th) there will be a session called "Introducing the PlayStation 3 Motion Controller." Hopefully there'll be no NDA covering the session and we'll learn a lot more about Sony's answer to the Wii Remote & Project Natal. Like, what is it going to be called? Is Playstation 3 Motion Controller the official name? Rumors have suggested both Playstation Arc and Playstation Gem as possible names.
The description of the session says:
The soon to be released Motion Controller for PlayStation 3 will allow developers to create new game play experiences, by allowing players to interact with their console in high definition using their bodies. The Motion Controller uses 3D position and orientation tracking, camera input and a controllable RGB LED to bridge the gap between camera, motion and traditional interfaces.
Originally of course, the Motion Controller was supposed to be launching this spring, which would have given it a good six month head start on the (seemingly) more ambitious Project Natal from Microsoft. Now it seems like the two new controllers will launch at roughly the same time, and I think Sony is going to face quite a challenge during that showdown. Thinking back on last year's E3 demo, the precision of the pointer was pretty impressive and (again) I like hardware buttons, so I'm excited to get my hands on Sony's Controller, but Natal definitely has it beat on "Gee Whiz!" factor. Maybe we'll see something at GDC that'll tip the scales. But on the other hand, Microsoft will be at GDC too. And I'm sure they'll be bringing Project Natal with them.