The flash drive-sized device, it is claimed, is the “world’s most powerful 3-D motion controller”
Even as Microsoft lets Kinect for Windows wither on the vine, San Francisco-based startup Leap Motion, Inc is gearing up to launch its first product: an eponymous motion-control device the size of a flash drive. Capable of accurately tracking finger movements to within a hundredth of a millimeter, the Leap Motion controller will begin shipping in May.
Meticulous detail, motion-controlled swords and PC exclusivity: that's what noted sci-fi and historical fiction author Neal Stephenson is bringing to the table if his arena-style blade-dueling game, Clang, meets its $500k funding goal. Stephenson, you see, is sick of seeing guns, guns and more guns in games and he -- with the help of Subutai, his Seattle-based media company -- wants to bring back old-school sword duels in virtual form, all powered by Razer's Hydra motion controller.
Traditionally, motion control has been the domain of the consoles. Between the Wii, Xbox Kinect, and the PlayStation Move, the tech has developed a reputation as an arm-wagging, casual experience—emblematic of the overall shift away from the kind of deep, demanding, rewarding gameplay that the PC as a platform is known for.
With that in mind, you can imagine that we were a little surprised when we heard that Razer—a company associated with competitive, hardcore gaming—was releasing a motion controller for the PC. Is this the beginning of the end?
In a word, no. Whether or not the Hydra is the beginning of anything at all is debatable, but it’s definitely not trying to dumb down PC gaming.
It seems like all the motion gaming news as of late has been about the Xbox Kinect system. Perhaps they were feeling left out, but Sony jumped into the middle of everything today by announcing they have shipped 4.1 million Move devices. What they left out, is how many of those have actually sold. Given the notable success of the Kinect (2.5 million sales so far), it might have been better if Sony hadn't said anything at all.
Since they chose to clue us in on the number of Move controllers they made, the uncomfortable issue of sales was bound to come up quickly. Sure enough, NPD is estimating that only about 500,000 Sony Move controllers have been sold thus far. That means a huge glut of motion controllers is sitting on shelves and in warehouses going into the holiday season.
We may be heading for a price drop is the Move doesn't start, *ahem*… moving. The Move bundle is going for $100 most places, but it only includes the camera, a game, and a single wand. Have you seen the Move languishing on your local store shelves?
Whether or not you view motion controlled gaming as a gimick is almost irrelevant, because either way, it's also a cash cow. Case in point -- it took Microsoft just 10 days to record 1 million Kinect sales for Xbox 360 units worldwide, the Redmond outfit announced.
"We are appreciative of the response we have seen from consumers that has culminated in sales of more than 1 million units in the first 10 days on the market for Kinect for Xbox 360," said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "This is a great start to the holiday season, and we will continue to work with our retailer partners to keep pace with high demand and deliver against our plan to sell more than 5 million Kinect sensors worldwide by the end of this year."
Given the Kinect's strong start and the holiday season launch, we won't question Microsoft's ability to reach 5 million units sold by the end of 2010. That's an impressive number, even before you consider that Microsoft was originally forecasting 3 million Kinect sensor sales by year-end.
Microsoft's Kinect uses an RGB webcam of sorts outfitted in a motorized bar to track full body movement. It's available as a standalone accessory ($150) or as part of a bundle with the Xbox 360 4GB ($300) and 250GB ($400).