Xbox 360 Project Natal vs PS3 Motion Controller: The War of The Future Gaming Controllers

It’s understandable that motion console gaming through motion control sensing are the future of gaming. It’s the battle of tow promising gaming console. Today the gaming industry is buzzing with Wii which is developed by Nitendo. Microsoft wowed the world last year at E3, with a demonstration of Project Natal, a full-body motion control system for the Xbox 360. Few days after, Sony demonstrated its own next-generation motion controller for the PlayStation 3.

PS3 vs Natal

When you start to read up on the two systems, it becomes evident that they have taken what Nintendo have done with the Wii and gone a step further. It’s the latest battle in the console wars. Two heavyweights. Two technology concepts. Both underdogs to the current heavyweight champ that is Nintendo Co. Ltd. Let’s just take a look at whether Project Natal for Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 or the Motion Controller for Sony Corp.’s Playstation 3 can deliver the stronger knockout punch.

With both the PS3 Motion Controller (rumoured to be called “Arc”) and the Xbox 360 Project Natal having probable release dates for Holiday 2010, it is only natural to ask which one will be better. Since that neither of these technologies are out on the market, it is only fair to ask “Which one will have more potential?”

Xbox 360 Project Natal:

The world’s largest software maker, Microsoft, promised that its highly anticipated Project Natal add-on for the Xbox 360 will ship in time for the 2010 holiday-shopping season, but it isn’t saying how much it will cost or what game titles will accompany its release.

Project Natal

When I first heard about Xbox 360’s Project Natal it seemed a little hard to believe, then after watching hands-on reviews and reading about a Natal prototype, things seemed a little more real.

Microsoft on June 1st unveiled Project Natal, an ambitious gesture-based motion control system that utilizes an advanced camera and microphone to facilitate three-dimensional motion tracking, facial recognition. Plus it recognizes voices, and totally immerses the players into the game. You can use your own gear like a skate board and such. Basically, it is better than Wii in the interactive gaming field. That is if the system works as well as the Microsoft video shows.

The technology was used to demonstrate new game experiences, including the replication of a virtual character that relayed user movement in action games, interacting with an AI character by passing real items into the virtual world, and interface options that allow users to move through menus with the wave of a hand.

In Wii, there is a controller which senses the motion. To swing an in-game tennis racket, you swing the so-called Wii-mote like a tennis racket. To play a bowling game, you swing the Wii-mote in a bowling motion. Natal, by comparison, provides much of that same functionality, but without having to hold on to the controller. Want to kick a ball in a game? Then make a kicking motion. Want to buzz in in a game show setting? Smack your fist into your hand. Want to share a drawing with an in-game avatar? Draw it and then hold it up to the Natal camera. That means, when you will play with natal you are the controller. How do you feel? Isn’t it more like real?

The largest setback for Project Natal is that the technology is not cheap. While Microsoft has not disclosed a price range, the company will be unlikely to include Natal in each Xbox 360 sold and keep its current pricing structure, thereby making the peripheral exactly that – an expensive option.

Director Steven Spielberg came on-stage during the press briefing to praise Microsoft's approach to the mainstream audience with Project Natal.
Director Steven Spielberg came on-stage during the press briefing to praise Microsoft's approach to the mainstream audience with Project Natal, last year.

The Great Filmmaker Steven Spielberg is also optimistic about the technology. Last year he told about his expectation from Natal to BBC.

“This is going to try to bring those that are intimidated or scared of the technology, with what the buttons do or what the controller does, this is going to give people that don’t usually play videogames access to a whole new world that we know is compelling but they haven’t quite discovered yet,”

It’s fascinating stuff, it really is. Watch the whole interview below:

After all the speculation, Microsoft promised that Natal is coming this year. In the video belo, Robbie Bach mentions another new Xbox feature: Game Room. Game Room is a feature of Xbox Live that lets users create their own arcade. In addition to playing classic games, such as those written for Atari or Intellivision, users can organize the machines and allow their avatars and those of friends to move throughout the virtual arcade.

Through Xbox Live users will be able to invite friends to their personal arcade to show off and try out their collection. Microsoft plans to launch new games each week, with the aim of giving users a choice of more than 1,000 games during the next three years.

PS3 Motion Controller:

Sony takes aim at Nintendo and Microsoft's motion controls.

Like Project Natal, Sony Corp.’s Playstation Motion Controller utilizes a camera to detect gesture-based movements. However, the camera utilized is the current Playstation Eye, an option that can be purchased for around $30. The controller itself, a wand-like apparatus, carries a glowing orb at the end that it used to track distance from the camera. The more utilitarian technology suggests that Sony will be able to sell the device at a mass market price and discount it faster than Natal. It will be going head to head with Microsoft’s controller-less motion-sensing scheme, Project Natal.

A prototype of Sony's new motion-control device was demonstrated in June last year. Photo: Reuters

Game demonstrations were recognized as useful to casual and core game titles. Virtual in-game weapon mapping was impressive and could be visualized for use in first and third-person action titles. Additionally, demonstrations of virtual object manipulation and archery lent well to casual game titles.

Since the game industry abhors a vacuum almost as much as nature, various speculative names for the PS3 Motion Controller began popping up. In a presentation at a UBS financial conference last December, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello referred to the system as the “Gem.” However, a more popular contender has been “Sphere,” a title which several Japanese developers have dropped in interviews and Sony reportedly has used internally.

Last official word we had on the launch of Sony’s PS3 Motion Controller was Spring 2010. However, we just received a press release from Sony Japan with a revised availability of “Fall 2010.” In the statement, Kaz Hirai avoids using the “d” word saying only, “We have decided to release the Motion Controller in fall 2010 when we will be able to offer an exciting and varied line-up of software titles that will deliver the new entertainment experience to PS3 users.”

“We will continue to work to have a comprehensive portfolio of attractive and innovative games for the Motion Controller, not only from SCE Worldwide Studios but also from the third party developers and publishers, whom we have been working closely with. We look forward to soon unveiling the exciting software line-up that further expands and defines the PS3 platform as the ultimate entertainment system for the home.”

SCE will vigorously promote the Motion Controller as the de facto controller of the PS3 platform along with the DUALSHOCK® series controller and will deploy various measures to enhance the software title line-up for the Motion Controller, delivering groundbreaking interactive entertainment only possible on the PS3 platform.

(1) Motion Controller is a tentative name.
(2) Users will need to use the PlayStation Eye camera to enjoy the Motion Controller on PS3.

Even though Microsoft’s Natal has more potential, at the moment the advantage goes to Sony since the company was able to display a workable motion control prototype under a variety of gaming scenarios. Microsoft, on the other hand, didn’t display any live advanced gaming scenarios, like hand-to-hand combat.

However, if Natal proves to be a flexible controller system that works across all gaming genres, then Natal on the Xbox 360 will be light years ahead of what Sony is doing. Let’s just hope the pricing of these devices doesn’t reach as high as each company’s aspirations.

Here is a funny but true video of a comparison between the two.



Piash Das is Senior Editor for TheTechJournal. He is also one of the founding members of TheTechJournal. He loves to write about latest technology. He is interested in Renewable Energy & Linux. He is working as a Telecom Optimizer in RF Field and loves Football very much. You can reach him on Twitter And Google+.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Asif2BD

    Thats an awesome article.

  2. Tuffcub

    You missed out some import facts. Natal will be accurate within a 4cm square, PS3 Motion control (It’s called “Arc” by the way) wil be sub millimetre accurate. Natal is fine for waving hello and “casual” games but utterly useless for anything requiring precision. You also missed out that the PS3 already has head tracking (It’s in the new GT5 game), and has had voice control since the PS2 Eye. Pricing for bother systems are around the price of “one game”.

  3. aguntuk

    Tuffcub thanks for your useful information….

  4. Pablo

    It’ll be interesting to see if Natal actually works as well as Microsoft claims. I’m understandably skeptical on trusting them.

  5. Teddy39

    In addition to the last video being biased rather than funny, a true comparison of the two systems should show at least:
    –Someone trying to kick a virtual football/soccer ball using the wii or the PS3 controller
    –Someone doing a virtual fighting game using both hands or their foot

    You get the idea. The argument about mm and sub pixel accuracy is moot, in the same way that graphics engine pixels have been moot for PS3 and XBOX360 vs. the Wii.

    Simplicity reigns supreme for the casual gamer: if you can play games without having to worry about cords, cables, batteries for a controller–thats what sells.

    The PS3 motion controller is interesting but the initial impression is of a better version of the Wii controller, not something Evolutionary.

    Project Natal, if it works, is easy to set up, and is the right price point may be that next step.

  6. The Guy

    @Tuffcub – You just look like a fanboy with out posting a link. I’ve read alot about both of these and so far I’ve read that natal is alot more accurate than that since it can track down all the way to small finger movment. The Arc is very accurate but it looks like a Dildo and has already been done by Wii, I don’t think it’s differen’t enough to sway Wii consumers.

  7. platomaker

    I definitely think that the playstation motion control will be good. I definitely think it will be 90 dollars though.

    1) not necessary for all playstation games. its a controller, but expect an “accessory” price tag
    2) It seems like they invested a lot of time, money, and effort into this as opposed to the psp go- which is selling for an outrageous price.

    A lot of people compare it to the wiimote. You have to ask yourself, what kind of technology are you buying for 40 dollars versus “whatever price this new controller is”. If its so much more impressive than the wiimote for using position tracking rather than just the playstation eye of course that technology would be more accurate, but its going to cost you.

    As for microsoft: their systems are still failing, and those were major purchases. Who could trust them now? Looking back the original Xbox had the red ring issues, then the xbox360, and now this. If this “accessory” hits the stores with an affordable price, that’s a yellow flag.

  8. Chinch

    It’s not just about the cost of the accessory though, as it has already been pointed out, to the average consumer the ps3 arc just looks like the wii mote, not different enough to ditch the wii and pay for a ps3 plus the arc controllerwhen the wii seems to do pretty much the same and most people already have one.

    Natal on the other hand looks completely different as it doesn’t involve using anything other than your imagination and body. It looks, from the demos, way far ahead of anything else.
    Pricing of the unit is completely unknown, if it’s too high then no way would anyone bother.

    Accuracy wise, after e3 some journalists said that they had tried burnout using natal and accelerating was done by pushing your foot down like you would on a pedal, if so that’s accurate enough don’t you think?

    Even with all above said however, I really don’t want motion tech to be the controllers of the future, if it ended up that way I’d just give up on gaming. I hate the wii, and I hated using the six axis. The wii is like a novelty toy and I just don’t have time for crap like motion tech. I wanna chill with a pint, sit back play some FIFA not jump about kicking my legs about, screw that

  9. morkey

    The one thing thats been bugging me is why the only people who use the sony motion controller, are sony engineers or work for sony. I mean we’ve seen a total of 4 people use the sony motion controller.(unless i missed a vid somewere) Sony has always controled the enviroment in which it’s been used even down to the people useing it.

  10. Len

    Yes, someone who has a wii may not deliberately go out and buy the Playstation Arc. But I think this is a similar situation for a wii user going out and buying a 360 and Natal.
    At the end of the day, you will buy the peripheral for whatever system you currently own, unless you’re made of money and have no life. Natal and Arc, do not warrant the purchase of a new system if you already own one, in my opinion.

    Until we see what games will be available for these peripherals, and how well they perform, there’s no point of saying which technology is better or more evolutionary. Do you buy it for its technical specs, or for the games available for it?

    I have yet to see any videos of the Natal showing me a game or something that I would actually want to pay money to do/play. Yes, there may be a lot of potential for Natal, but talk is cheap. I’d say there are many more questions surrounding Natal, and many more doubts. Think about it. The only knock there is on the PS3 Arc is that it’s too similar to the Wii, but at least it works right? On the other hand, who knows what will happen with Natal. I won’t keep my hopes up though.

    Look for a lot of shovelware to arrive on both. Motion controls imho are only good for parties with multiplayer (think Wii). Single player motion control, especially full body control is just ridiculous.

  11. What you see

    Did you now the technology was taken from Nintendo for the Natal? Yes, it was going to be Nintend who would have brought the technology out first! Problem they had was it wasn’t accurate enough and it didn’t make sense for a user to portent to use an object in real time. To be honest they are both old and new technology.

    You can already motion track a user with the eye-toy 2 from Sony and swing your arms to roll a bowling ball with the Nintendo’s wii remote. In my opinion, I would rather have a laugh with my friends with the so called “Arc” then swing my legs and arms around when playing Fifa or Driving games. Also, who wants to sit trying to control a car with nothing in there hands or peddles that don’t exist? Not me lol, I would get arm ache sitting there with both of my arms in front of me for 30 laps etc. I get tired after playing on the wii at my mates after 15 min or more. What a stupid idea Microsoft!

    Not to mansion you need a mansion to use the damn thing lol. What if you are 15 years old and still live at home with your parents? You have a box room that is only 8ft by 5 ft and you cant swing a cat in it? Most of the videos show the Natal on a huge screen and with someone who is standing in a studio the size of a football field lol. This lasi applies to Sony’s Arc controller, but at least you have a choice to play the games with or without the remote.

    Remember you are also on the screen when you use the Arc, so in theory its like the Natal but you see yourself. Also you have a more accurate motion system then just a camera that sees the outline of your body. What if you like to wear baggy trousers or clothes in general. lol.

    I don’t think both will be successful, but I do believe the “Arc” will be more appealing to gamers who have already experienced what the wii already offers.

    Sony and Microsoft have a lot to prove, but I would say Sony will be on top for consistency and originality when it comes to the gamer rather then the technology.

  12. marhorn

    ha! natal is light years ahead of the ps3! theres a vid of natal where a someone draws a picture then shows it to the character on screen, the character then takes the picture (scanned in by natal) recognises the drawing as a fish and even compliments the color with which it was drawn in!!!! come on people when i can walk into my living room and natal recognises me, signs me into live whilst im skinning up, then you know you have a revolution in gaming! even works in the dark due to infra red scanning. imagine playing resi! come on people come on!

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  17. Cheap Xbox 360

    Come on why aren't you crediting the gaming device who initially introduced it and through which this motion gaming spread rapidly. I mean why not compare PSP with Nintendo and Xbox 360 with Nintendo. Why aren't people making those comparisons? What are they scared of? You really have to give credits to Nintendo for actually understanding the need of gamers and actually being able to implement it at large.

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