Harry Potter could be the catalyst that finally ignites PlayStation Move and causes Sony to re-think its long term strategy for the motion-sensing peripheral. Having shipped over 8 million units worldwide, Sony will tell you that PS Move has already been a great success, but ask any gamer who owns the wand-shaped stick and they’ll tell you it’s been bitterly disappointing so far.
In 2006, Nintendo launched Wii and innovated with its new motion controller, but when PS Move arrived some four years later it just seemed that Sony was out to make a quick buck, jumping on the back of Nintendo’s commercially successful motion-sensing games by launching titles such as Sports Champions, a blatant copy of Wii Sports. We’ve seen little innovation since.
Working out who PlayStation Move is actually targeted at is confusing at the best of times, with a mish-mash of titles released that span almost every genre. Core gamers moaned that they weren’t catered for with PS Move’s family-friendly motion-sensing games, so Sony and third party developers foolishly tried to please them with the likes of Killzone 3 and Golden Eye 007: Reloaded launching with tacked-on PS Move support.
PlayStation Move was never going to appeal to the core audience of PlayStation gamers who regularly get their kicks from mature franchise such as the Call of Duty and Uncharted series. What PS Move has always needed is unique IPs and concepts built solely around the technology, aimed at the younger audience who aren’t that well catered for on PS3. Bringing the world of Harry Potter to PlayStation Move is exactly what it needed.
Announced at E3 this year, WonderBook: Book of Spells targets exactly the right people likely to get the most out of PS Move. While the other recently announced, big motion-sensing game, Sports Champions 2, will undoubtedly give some gamers a reason to remove that layer of dust from their glowing sphere, it's Book of Spells that will capture the hearts and minds of the young gamers and should really give Sony the impetus to take PS Move to another level.
Book of Spells is, of course, a great commercial venture for Sony because the world of Harry Potter already has millions of adoring fans worldwide. However, this is more than a quick cash-in. The Wonderbook platform re-invents the storybook using augmented reality to beam magic into the living rooms of millions and bring a tale to life. This is a massive step for PlayStation Move and indicates a new potential direction for the device.
Not only could this interactive storybook be a great way for children to learn in the home, but on a bigger scale we could see PlayStation consoles become a regular fixture in classrooms up and down the country. Sony has already made in-roads into education, offering PS Move courses to teachers, releasing educational DLC for LittleBigPlanet 2, and launching its Move.me software free to students and educators. Wonderbook could be the start of the next phase of its educational push and a brilliant way to engage youngsters and encourage them to learn and read.
Any book could be brought to life via this medium. We’re talking about books such as the Horrible Histories and the Roald Dahl collection. It may sound far-fetched at this particular point, but there’s serious potential here if Sony decides to grasp this opportunity -- major companies such as the BBC have already shown interest. What’s stopping Sony from working closely with those in education to create its own range of interactive educational books that spans the curriculum?
The truth is PS Move’s future is already looking much brighter than it did even a few months ago. Though Wonderbook: Book Of Spells is just a game at this stage, and we don’t know yet to what extent reading will be part of the experience, it’s clear that the storytelling platform could just be the start of a new and exciting venture for Sony and younger PS Move owners.
Games will no doubt continue to be created for PS Move, but hopefully we’ll now see Sony seriously think about its future and where this technology can go when PlayStation 4 lands. PlayStation Move has so far failed to become the amazing peripheral we hoped it would be, but the education sector can definitely be a big part of its future. Whatever path Sony go down now, it needs to also think about creating quality experiences and brand new concepts for younger gamers if it hopes for long term success.