Sony unveils new motion-controlled gaming system

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Sony Corp has unveiled its new motion-controlled video game system, pitching it to both casual and hard-core gamers alike, as the company looks to ride one of the hottest trends in gaming.

The new system will help Sony keep pace with rivals Nintendo Co Ltd, which pioneered gesture-based gaming, and Microsoft Corp, which is launching its system later this year.

Sony’s new PlayStation “Move” controller is used with its Eye gaming webcam, translating users’ motions into actions within games on the PlaySation 3 (PS3) console.

Move, which resembles a TV remote with a colorful ball stuck on the end, will be available as part of a package this fall for less than $100, Sony said at a media event on Wednesday.

The company said 36 third-party developers and publishers are supporting the Move platform. In fiscal 2010, Sony will release more than 20 games that are dedicated to or supported by the system.

Nintendo’s Wii kicked off the craze for motion-controlled gaming, making the console and active games such as “Wii Fit” and “Wii Sports Resort” into huge hits with casual gamers.

Microsoft has already unveiled the Natal body-gesturing gaming system for its Xbox 360 console, which the company plans to have in stores for the holidays.

Jack Tretton, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, said in an interview that motion control expands the market opportunity for the PS3 to new consumers, and said the company hopes to siphon off some Wii users.

“We clearly want to speak to the 34 million people who already own a Playstation 3, then I think we offer a great opportunity to graduate from the Wii to the Playstation 3,” Trettton said.

Sony said Move is especially precise, with every twitch and punch registering accurately in games ranging from casual titles for kids to fighting and swashbuckling swordplay games.

Sony said the accuracy of its motion-based gaming means it will also appeal to more hard-core gamers, generally younger men, who are the backbone of the $50 billion gaming industry.

Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Carol Bishopric and Lincoln Feast