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Daily Reaction: Will Anyone Miss the PS4 Camera?

July 2, 2013 Written by Sebastian Moss

Wall-EYE

Our inbox has been flooded with people asking about the PS4 camera, so today’s Daily Reaction is going to be all about the $60 peripheral, how it’ll stack up against the bundled Kinect 2, and whether cameras are actually any good for anything.

Seb: The big rumor is that Sony dropped the PS4 Camera from the standard PS4 unit at the last minute so that they could come in at $399, which is significantly below the $499 of the Xbox One. Yesterday, SCEA President/CEO Jack Tretton talked about the lack of the camera, saying that “to force every consumer to have one on day one, when some of them may be on a limited budget and don’t necessarily have the interest in it, or to mandate that the development community has to support it… ends up coming up a little bit short in terms of things of things that people can get excited about.”

Of course, what Jack conveniently doesn’t mention is the advantage of bundling a camera with every console – it guarantees an install base, which developers can rely on. Xbox One studios can be confident that there will be an audience that has Kinects. Of course, whether that audience will use the Kinects is another thing – look at the SixAxis, something bundled with every PS3 controller, yet not used by the vast majority of consumers or developers.

The other thing is that the PS4 Camera is not as good as the Kinect 2, as far as we can tell. It doesn’t look like it will be baked into the UI to such a degree, their experience with the platform isn’t as strong, it doesn’t have as many features, it lacks the same dev community the Kinect 1 grew, and you can’t tell your console to ‘go home’.

Sony’s own developer support for a camera they supposedly believed would be bundled is also apparently woefully low – a DriveClub photo option, a tech demo, and maybe some UStream integration.

Essentially, by nixing the requirement to have a camera bundled, Sony has dropped support for a device they already wouldn’t have supported. In fact, with Microsoft forcing their camera on people, multiplatform devs have a camera audience, so, if the devices aren’t too dissimilar, we should see camera content on the PS4 as a happy side effect.

This was clearly a smart move for Sony as it has given them a vital price advantage at launch (and beyond), while all that has been lost is something that would have been left to die in classic Sony fashion.

Would I have preferred it was bundled? Sure. But for an extra $60+ price tag to all PS4s? Hell no.

Dan: As someone who purchased the PlayStation Eye for the PS3, I can honestly say that I have ZERO interest in another camera device for my PS4. Will I pick one up? Probably. But, that is simply because it is my job to give you a first hand account of what games are capable of, and that means having all the proper equipment to do such.

The PlayStation Camera does look interesting and The Playroom does look cool as a tech demo:

It is just that no matter how many people try to spin the utility of a device like this, the majority of the gaming audience won’t care. That is the main reason developers will not support the device with anything beyond voice commands or maybe, at best, gesture support.

This is not to say that no developer will support the new hardware, as even Jenova Chen from thatgamecompany has shown interest in the technology that the Kinect 2 has. But how far can we utilize the capabilities of these devices without removing too much of what we have understood to be gaming? That is the issue, and the main reason why many gamers really can’t and don’t care about the device – it is simply too much of a game changer.

Sony’s decision to not include the camera with every purchase could potentially be a problem for those looking to dance in front of their TV, but I don’t see that as a market the gaming industry cares too much about. The indie scene could find ways to adapt the technology in meaningful and interesting ways, much like we have seen with Joust but, Sony does have a camera still, as well as amazing independent studio support – so, Sony lost nothing by not including the device.

Long story short, the fact that Sony’s camera is an option could be a problem as not everyone will have one. But even if they did, how likely would it be that most people hooked it up, let alone used it? Accessories are great in concept, but from the PowerGlove to the 32X, they have a history of being mere afterthoughts, dust collectors that do little but remind us how much money we waste looking for the next big thing.

Are you sad the PS4 isn’t more expensive but packing a camera? Can you see motion controls being the future? Are you always being watched? Let us know in the comments below, email us infrared photos of yourself naked to DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net and follow us in the bushes at Seb and Dan.