SAN FRANCISCO (TheStreet) -- Sony (SNE) finally got off its posterior and announced the name of its new PlayStation 3 motion controller, Move, at the Game Developers Conference just before the release of Electronic Arts' (ERTS) new Tiger Woods game. Golf claps all around.TheStreet.com reported in December that the PlayStation 3 motion controller would bow before the middle of this year. What remains uncertain is just how much the PlayStation Move will help the PlayStation 3's cause. After last fall's price drop briefly boosted the PS3's sales, it now finds itself in a familiar position on the game-console food chain: in third place behind Microsoft's ( MSFT) Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii, according to NPD Group's January sales figures. If you include Nintendo's DS handheld in the mix, the PS3 is a distant fourth. There are some reasons for optimism, as NPD notes that game-accessory sales have risen 2% since January 2009. Also, 36 publishers including Activision ( ATVI), Capcom, Sega, Konami ( KNM) and Ubisoft are making games to support the PlayStation Move peripheral, with games like the aforementioned Tiger Woods installment, LittleBigPlanet and SOCOM4 already in the can. The controller seems oddly self-aware of its resemblance to a Harry Potter wand and has interchangeable colored orbs to place atop it. However, the peripheral gives hard-core gamers something they've longed for from a motion-control device: the ability to play games in HD and the potential to use the controls in large-scale multiplayer games like the Call of Duty series. The bad news, especially going into Year 4 of its shelf life, is that the PlayStation 3 isn't making a huge step forward with its PlayStation Move. The Move and its accompanying subcontroller are only a Bluetooth connection and a color removed from the Wii Remote and its accompanying nunchuck. Unlike the Wii, however, the PlayStation 3 wasn't packaged with this remote or its accompanying PlayStation Eye -- the camera peripheral that the Move controller needs in order to be effective. While Sony has promised an Eye/Move/game starter kit for "under $100," a la Wii Play, it's basically asking the rest of the public for a PlayStation 3 reboot by selling the device packaged with the new peripheral.
This is going to be difficult, as console sales have dropped 21% since last January, with console-game sales also off 12%. Microsoft isn't making it easy either, as its Project Natal motion-capture camera/controller slated for later this year would be a huge technological advance if it delivers on its promise. With Natal on the horizon and the Wii pacifying motion-sensitive casual gamers with its Wii MotionPlus adapter, the PlayStation may be boxed in just as it attempts to Move. -- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.