July 5, 2011 at 5:19 PM ET
One way to tell just how long in the tooth our current video game machines are getting is by observing how many rumors crop up about the new game machines that are supposedly going to take their place.
It seems we gamers can't help but pine for the next big thing in gaming ... even when the current thing in gaming seems to have barely reached mid-life. With that in mind, we have this latest news in from the rumor mill: Sony is planning to launch the PlayStation 4 in 2012 ... and it will have Kinect-like motion controls.
This news comes courtesy of China's DigiTimes tech news site ... which got the scoop from some unnamed "Taiwan-based component makers."
According to the DigiTimes report, Foxconn and Pegatron Technology will assemble the PS4 for Sony starting at the end of this year for a 2012 launch. (These companies both assembled the PS3).
Though DigiTimes is very short on specifics, they report that these mysterious component makers say the next PlayStation will feature "body movement-based control like Kinect." Kinect, of course, is the motion-control device from Microsoft — Sony's gaming rival.
And frankly, there are things that ring true about this latest round of rumors ... and things that don't.
For starters, it seems unlikely that we'll see a PS4 next year. Yes, this November it will have been five years since the PlayStation 3 launched. And yes, Nintendo is planning to launch a new game machine next year — the Wii U — which might put pressure on Sony and Microsoft to launch new machines of their own sooner than they would like.
But Sony has previously talked up the PS3's 10-year life cycle. And conflicting reports suggest that both Microsoft and Sony are shooting for something more like a 2014 launch window for their next-gen consoles. A later launch makes sense considering both the current-generation PS3 and Xbox 360 are significantly more powerful and therefore seem to have more staying power than the current-gen Wii.
However, what I don't find hard to believe is the notion that Sony may be working on some kind of Kinect-like motion-control tech for its next game machine. In fact, I'd say that scuttlebutt makes all kinds of good sense.
First of all, Sony has already taken motion-control gaming tech from the competition, improved upon and incorporated it into its own game platform. That is, the company clearly took a cue from Nintendo's wand-like motion controls when it created its own, more accurate, wand-like motion controller — the PlayStation Move.
And Move already works in conjunction with a motion-sensing camera — the PlayStation Eye (which has been around longer than the camera-based Kinect). So it's not hard to imagine that Sony would be upping the power and sensitivity of their own camera peripheral to bring some kind of full-body motion controls into the mix.
Of course, it's worth pointing out that Sony officials have said they purposely passed on the Kinect technology that Microsoft (rather successfully) embraced.
But as someone who has used all of the various motion controllers out there, I have to say that I'd like to see PlayStation Move- and Xbox Kinect-style controls working in conjunction. I think that combo could offer some very useful, usable and intriguing gaming experiences.
I must not be the only one with such fantasies. Some clever tech tinkerer (i.e. hacker) claims to have already taken the first steps toward making this motion control marriage a reality.
I did contact Sony to get their take on all the PS4 gossip. Not surprisingly they had this to say: "We don't comment on rumors or speculation."
(Thanks to Kotaku for the heads up.)
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