Microsoft, Sony Unveil Technologies Similar to Nintendo's Wii

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, the video game industry comes together to introduce its latest games and consoles. The conference runs through June 4.
By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 2, 2009; 5:59 PM

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then this week may have been a gratifying one for Nintendo, so far.

During a set of dueling news conferences today in Los Angeles, both Microsoft and Sony revealed that part of their upcoming strategies to gain traction in the video game market include movement-detecting control schemes, in which natural-seeming hand and arm gestures replace button mashing. In other words, Nintendo's biggest competitors will both soon be offering technologies that make their products a little more like the company's Wii.

Sony showed off new technology in which a camera device parked by a PlayStation 3 owner's TV can track a user's hand movements as he or she controls, onscreen, a virtual sword or baseball bat. The technology is scheduled to become available next spring.

"We're working to create an experience that is much closer to real life than anything you've experienced," said Jack Tretton, president and chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment of America. "This is going to be an important part of PlayStation's future."

Nintendo, the company that pioneered motion-sensing game interaction, also announced that it is pushing the technology to a new level. The company will soon sell a tiny box that clicks onto the Wii's controller in order to provide a more accurate reading, onscreen, of a player's arm movements in the real world.

Microsoft showed off its technology, called Project Natal, on Monday. So advanced is Microsoft's take on this technology that users don't even need to hold a controller in their hands, thanks to a camera that "sees" how players are tilting their hands as they, for example, steer a virtual car in a racing game.

The announcements came on the eve of the industry's major annual trade show, the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Sony also revealed a new version of its mobile gaming device, the PlayStation Portable. The latest version, called the PSP Go, is a bit smaller than its predecessors, as it discards a slot for game discs; users of the PSP Go will directly download games from an online Sony game store.

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