Sony's PS3 Move Bundle Costs More (and Less) Than You Think

PS Move Sports Champions Bundle

Sony's new PS3 Move bundle costs, well, a bundle, weighing in at $400 for one controller, a game, the requisite PlayStation Eye camera, and a king-of-the-mountain 320GB PlayStation 3 to top the whole thing off. The company's more than happy to take your money for one, and here's the thing--some of you are going to be more than happy to part with it.

The question is how many. Those of you most likely to buy the Move immediately probably already own a PS3. For you, the Move Starter Bundle beckons. It's a much more reasonable $100 and comes with the same wand, game, and camera you need to, well, get started.

Some have suggested the pack-in game, unmemorably dubbed Sports Champions, is just a clone of Nintendo's Wii Sports. I have the game, and can say with some authority that while both are sports-themed, Sports Champions plays very little like Nintendo's pack-in motion-control hors d'œuvre. It's much more accurate, for starters, which sounds like a throwaway line at this point, but if you're really a gamer, you know accuracy--the measure of how faithfully what you're doing off-screen gets translated on screen--is arguably the most crucial factor in a dossier of design imperatives.

My wife noticed the difference immediately, squaring off wand versus wand in a sand volleyball match. When you screw up, it's crystal clear you screwed up--not, as is often the case with the Wii, a glitch premised on a motion capture system incapable of consistent 1-to-1 mapping. My experience with Sports Champions so far can be summed up pretty simply: I want to keep playing until I've mastered every move. Because I can. Which is something I could never say about this sort of Wii game.

But back to the $400 Move bundle. It's not entirely clear who Sony's targeting. Perhaps the Xbox 360 crowd, though it's a safe bet a lot of them already own PS3s. Maybe it's Wii gamers Sony's hoping want to "upgrade," you know, to a "more refined" experience. But the Wii costs $200, possibly less if Nintendo discounts the system this holiday (they probably will, and I'm predicting $150), and can be purchased as a bundle that comes with one controller, the Nunchuk, the MotionPlus snap-on piece (making the controller slightly more accurate), and both Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. That's a deal for $200. That'd be a steal of a deal for $150.

So no, I have to agree with Technologizer's Jared Newman, who also sees the $400 bundle targeting a harder-core gaming audience. Sure, it's a deal if you look at my price comparison chart and consider what you're getting (and saving) versus a standalone system, but--and I'm sure Sony knows this--most consumers see price tags, not breakout spreadsheets. Thus Microsoft's ability to pass the at one point ridiculously more expensive Xbox 360 off as less expensive. Because it was, just so long as you bought it barebones, then never upgraded.

Now Kinect's looking like the cheaper option (accuracy issues notwithstanding--it's a much looser, inexact experience, like the Wii). Microsoft's no-controller motion-sensing camera supports up to four players out of the box, because all it has to do is "see" them to do its thing. As I noted yesterday, the equivalent cost on the PS3 could run up to $400 for the controllers alone (four players, two wands each, $50 per wand). And if you want the Move navigation controller, add another $30 per player.

Sony contacted me to clarify a few things concerning this last point:

The company says that "the vast majority" of PS Move games will be playable with one motion controller when playing solo. Some games give you the option to play with one or two motion controllers (Sports Champions is one--the benefit is occasionally more articulate motion control). I can confirm it's not required--the choice is always yours--and that one controller's as accurate as two when it comes to gauging precision.

In several games, if you're playing with friends or family members--say in an augmented reality game like Start the Party--you can share a single motion controller, passing it around between turns. You only need a wand for everyone if the game requires simultaneous play, and then you're only required to have one per person.

The $30 navigation controller "essentially replicates the left side of the DUALSHOCK 3 controller for familiar and natural control," but it's not required for any PS Move games. Sony says the DUALSHOCK 3 that comes standard with PS3 will let you do everything the navigation controller does in all PS Move titles.

So is the Move all Sony's promised? Has it been priced and marketed to the right audience? I'll answer the first question here, before it ships on September 19. I'll be watching in the months that follow for you to answer the second.

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