The buzz at E3 last week surrounded new motion control solutions from Microsoft and Sony, but major third-party publisher Activision Blizzard isn't jumping headlong into the next-generation motion control market.
That's partly because of the relatively high price of Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation Move. Activision, whose cautious, low-risk approach to the game business has paid off in the form of $3 billion in cash and no debt, is taking a characteristically cautious approach to the new tech, according to company COO Thomas Tippl.
He told Gamasutra last week that he is "absolutely" concerned about high price points for the new devices. "I think as a publisher, you have to be concerned about how the price drives a lot of the outcome of how big of an install base there's going to be [for hardware]."
He added, "The bigger the install base, the more likely that you can make sense out of your investment. So, the lower the price, the better. In this economic environment, it's probably more important than ever."
Activision isn't shy about telling hardware manufacturers that their products are too expensive, and Tippl openly acknowledges this. In 2009, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said that Sony's PlayStation 3 was too expensive at the time, stating that the price inhibited the console's install base growth. "If we are being realistic, we might have to stop supporting Sony," Kotick had said.
Microsoft's online store lists the 3D motion- and voice-sensing Kinect
at $150, with Xbox 360/Kinect bundles reportedly arriving later this year. The PlayStation Move controller will cost $50 in U.S. stores, while the separate navigation controller will cost $30. The Move system also requires the PlayStation Eye camera, which costs $40. Sony is also offering motion control bundle packages that will offer a better value.
Tippl added, "Move and Kinect, I think, will be interesting new opportunities to innovate certain franchises, but probably not for every kind of game. So, we'll have to see how much of an install base they're going to develop."
"A lot of that will depend on the price point they choose," Tippl said. "We have a few franchises where we think this could be an interesting value to improve the experience for the player. Tony Hawk
is an example. We have our Rapala Fishing
franchise. But it's not going to be something that will be in every game, because I don't think it's one size fits all. It's not going to enhance the experience for every game."
Gamasutra will run the full interview with Tippl on Wednesday.