Gamers Await Motion Control Systems from Microsoft and Sony at E3


June 10, 2010

Microsoft and Sony are set to provide detail on their upcoming forays into motion-controlled gaming at the annual E3 conference next week. In advance of Microsoft’s Project Natal and Sony’s Move presentations, Nielsen Games surveyed over 2,400 active gamers over the past two weeks about their knowledge of and expectations for these motion control systems.

For background, Microsoft’s Project Natal has been billed as providing controller-free gaming and navigation for the Xbox 360 with movements on the screen based on players’ physical gestures. Sony’s Move for the PlayStation 3 utilizes a motion-capturing controller, plus a secondary “sub-controller” providing additional functionality. Both were revealed at E3 last year and rely in part on an integrated camera to capture movement. Of course, motion control is not new: Nintendo released the Wii in 2006 in the US.

So how do Natal and Move fare in terms of consumer response going into E3? Fully 23% are aware of Move and 21% of Natal among the total group of gamers surveyed, regardless of systems owned. For those who actually own, play and purchase games for the requisite consoles already, 42% of PlayStation 3 gamers are aware of Move and 39% of Xbox 360 gamers are aware of Natal. Gamers voice slightly greater purchase interest for Natal, though the differences are small between gamers for the relevant consoles. Those who are aware voice substantial definite purchase interest which speaks to the high anticipation among the most engaged consumers in the category.

Microsoft Project Natal

Total Gamers Xbox 360 Gamers
Awareness 21% 39%
Definite Purchase Interest among Aware* 35% 42%
Expected Release Date** I don’t know (40%) I don’t know (36%)
Source: The Nielsen Company

Sony Move

Total Gamers PlayStation 3 Gamers
Awareness 23% 42%
Definite Purchase Interest among Aware* 28% 41%
Expected Release Date** I don’t know (42%) I don’t know (39%)
Source: The Nielsen Company

* Defined as those who are “definitely” interested in buying among those who are aware of Natal/Move

** Release date expectations were asked among those who are aware of each motion control system

These figures represent something of an initial read in that many key details, such as specific games supported and price, have yet to be released, and advertising campaigns have not yet shifted into gear. Indeed, nearly 40% of gamers state that they don’t know when either of these motion control systems will be available despite the fact that both companies have publicly stated that plans are to release these in the holiday timeframe.

One detail which has received much scrutiny is price. There have been wide-ranging estimates about these in the blogosphere and consumer views reflect some of this uncertainty. Gamers are fairly united in believing that Move will cost somewhere between $26 and $75. Sony has stated that the price will be below $100 so this is perhaps unsurprising. But for Natal there is a fairly wide distribution, with 27% thinking it will cost over $100 but a near equal 31% believing it will be under $50. It will be interesting to see if pricing is clarified next week and if so, how consumers perceive the value.

natal-move

The presentations of Natal and Move are highly anticipated in the industry as these products are seen as potential catalysts for holiday season buying. It will be important to gauge consumer response over the coming weeks and months as more details are revealed. Nielsen will continue to follow consumers’ perceptions for the next several weeks to assess the impact of E3 announcements in a subsequent post.

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