In the weeks leading up to E3 2013, Sony pulled one of their most covert moves ever, and one that may have helped them win the looming console war. And surprisingly, it has to do with eliminating motion control support rather than further committing to it.
According to a source within Sony, the console maker decided not to package the PlayStation Eye with every PS4, and as a result lower the cost of the console by $100. What makes the ploy so devious is that they told retailers they were dropping the Eye, but didn’t tell them they were lowering the price.
Without the peripheral, Sony had put themselves in a position to shock the gaming populace by undercutting their competitor’s price point. At the same time, though, they were sacrificing any further commitments to a motion-control future. It would be up to the consumer whether they wanted to purchase the $59.99 camera.
Now, it’s unclear whether Microsoft knew about Sony’s PS4 price point going into E3, but if they did, they were likely caught off guard by Sony’s announcement. Microsoft clearly felt comfortable announcing the Xbox One price ($499), most likely because they assumed Sony’s console would retail for the same price.
But when Sony announced $399, not $499, they sent a big message to Microsoft and spending-conscious gamers. Not to mention, they announced a used game policy that was more consumer friendly. In a way, the PlayStation Eye became a necessary sacrifice in a console war that is more important than ever. And as we’ve already detailed, Sony used the reaction to Microsoft’s Xbox One announcement to shape their new strategy.
But, while Sony decided that the PlayStation Eye was worth ditching for a cheaper price point, they also put the peripheral and the Dual Shock 4 in an awkward position. Prior to E3, Sony had put a decent amount of focus on the Dual Shock 4’s color-changing light bar, which helps track motion and recognize controllers.
Without the PlayStation Eye, though, that functionality is useless. The light bar can still be used as a low-health indicator or things of that nature, but the motion tracking is gone.
But, at the end of the day, Sony came in with a lower price point than Microsoft and will presumably be able to take that advantage into the fall season. Additionally, Sony has now distanced themselves motion controls altogether.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has made the Kinect an essential part of the Xbox One experience. Even if it makes the console $100 more expensive.
On the Xbox One, developers know that every gamer will have Kinect, and so they can create experiences that take full advantage of the peripheral. That isn’t to say gamers want that, but at least the guessing game over Kinect ownership is gone.
For Sony, however, the segmentation over motion controls will continue into the next-gen. But we doubt Sony will mind if it means their console outsells the Xbox One like early polls suggest it might. And who’s to say gamers are still interested in motion controlled games?
Do you think it was a smart move by Sony to ditch the PlayStation Eye in order to lower the PS4 price? Did Sony basically doom the PlayStation Eye?
Sony is targeting a Holiday 2013 release for the PS4.