Is the PS3’s 3D & Move Confusing Consumers?

July 3, 2010 Written by Kishen Patel

Anticipation is high for the latest and greatest in the world of Sony PlayStation thanks to the future debut of the coveted PlayStation Move motion control system and brand-new 3D technology for the flagship PlayStation 3 console. At the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Sony Computer Entertainment America undoubtedly stole the show in the hardware department in both the press conference and booth by just demoing their new peripherals and upcoming technology. With all this hardware and new technological trends releasing, it is easy to get lost in all the excitement. But is it just us or does this seem all too familiar?

Flashback to the 2006 and 2007 Sony E3 Press Conferences and it is almost too clear as to what is obviously the first doubt into the minds of industry analysts: complicated consumer confusion. Back in 2006, SCE made a move that proved to be a frightening first for the corporation when they launched two stock-keeping units of the PlayStation 3 in the form of the bittersweet 60GB and 20GB SKUs, a first for any platform release of the PlayStation brand. Where the confusion came into play were with the feature sets since hard drive capacity was not the only disparity between the two SKUs. Adding insult to injury, future SKUs announced and released in 2007 came with more stripped features than additional offerings. Fortunately, thanks to wise internal restructuring (topped off with a killer lineup of course), the PlayStation 3 went on its life-cycle and eventually reincarnating itself in a redesigned, rebranded slimmer and lighter console. With this history lesson out of the way, it is time to evaluate the current state of the consumer’s relationship with our home entertainment console of choice.

At the 2010 Sony E3 Press Conference, a bright spotlight was set on Sony’s PlayStation Move. Officially announced at the 2009 Sony E3 Press Conference, the motion controller was dated, and delayed, for release in Fall of this year but details for the launch, such as pricing and software lineup, were still cold. Because of this, the live audience in attendance at the Shrine auditorium this year unanimously applauded at the September 2010 launch date and the $49.99 price-point—but not for long. The congratulatory response was short-lived once the separate pricing for the Navigation Sub-Controller, Move Controller and PlayStation Eye bundle, and PlayStation 3 bundle were revealed. Immediately, prospective buyers everywhere began to calculate their personal investment required to fulfill their Move experience.

Where the confusion comes into play is just there: what consumers will need to get into motion controlling for their PlayStation 3. For example, for games like SOCOM 4, a Move controller plus a Navigation controller is required for the full motion controlled experience(although it is possible to gimp it by using a DualShock 3 instead of a Navigation controller) whereas for a motion control-required title like The Fight: Lights Out, two Move controllers are required. While disclaimers and software labels are effective for getting the word out, the concept of bundles is ultimately a cause for consumer confusion—which takes us back to 2006/2007. Looking at the competition, it is undeniably obvious the success of Nintendo’s Wii. We are more than likely to bet that the success of the Wii and its motion controlled gaming is attributed to the fact that there is one SKU with everything you need to get started. The PlayStation 3 and even the Xbox 360, however, left room for confusion by releasing multiple SKUs simultaneously to the market and differentiating them with or without features, for instance HDMI and hard disk drive presence on the different 360 models.

Next up, there’s the struggle of implementing 3D technology into homes. Admittedly, 3D gaming and Blu-ray cinema, which may seem to be nothing more than a gimmick to some, is the more appealing trend to the casual consumer market. But ironically, 3D technology brings with it the hardcore AV territory that is almost impossible for the average consumer to grasp without a good amount of research. Needless to say, even many gamers in the hardcore crowd are unaware of whether or not stereoscopic 3D is compatible with their current television set, let alone what stereoscopic 3D even is for that matter (Note: Chances are, you need to purchase a new set). This fact alone combined with earlier reports claiming that some current TV’s are already compatible with the PlayStation 3’s 3D technology will place even early adopters in a land of confusion. It is no wonder that analysts remain doubtful of widespread adoption of 3D technology. According to a spokesperson for the analysts at DFC Intelligence:

“We still think 3D may remain more of a gimmick than something consumers want to do on a regular basis.”

To avoid ending without a high note, all clouds have a silver lining including the direction the PlayStation 3 is taking. Unlike the Nintendo Wii and arguably the Xbox 360, SCE still has the highest of priorities set on the core gamer market. Even with the PlayStation Move motion control device(s), the titles core consumers and hardcore gamers are still there and coming down the line. Even with future motion titles, like Killzone 3, Gran Turismo 5, and LittleBigPlanet 2, gamers can rest easy knowing that their standard DualShock 3 or Sixaxis controller is still relevant though lacking in a cheap street-credit fad. Even with the 3D debate, in the end, it is there for consumers when they are primed and ready for it and there is no harm in having it. This even the analysts at DFC had to admit:

“Nevertheless, it could work as a selling point for a system like the PlayStation… Consumers may not actually use any of the 3D features, but just the fact that they are there could encourage them to buy a PlayStation 3 over a competing system.”

For our readers, however, rest easy knowing that PlayStation LifeStyle has the visitors covered with upcoming 3D technology and PlayStation Move reviews. Will you be an early adopter of 3D technology and motion control or are you already confused? Post your thoughts in the comments below or even request a piece of PS3 tech you want us to review!