Mental Math: The PlayStation Move Experience Is Going to Be Expensive

Sony barely mentioned pricing with their PlayStation Move motion controller, only noting that the combo pricing with PlayStation Eye and a game will cost less than $100. But by our back-of-the-envelope calculations, the experience is going to be really expensive.

Our previous look was with the Wii MotionPlus, which clocked in at $80 per person to be fully equipped. That was $40 for the Wiimote, $20 for the Nunchuck and another $20 for the MotionPlus dongle. Now, you can get a WiiMote + MotionPlus bundle for $50, bringing the 1 person cost down to $70, factoring in the Nunchuck. For four people, assuming you didn't trash the bundled WiiMote and Nunchuck from your Wii console purchase, the cost would be $230.

What about the PlayStation Move?

For the full PlayStation Move experience, each player needs two PlayStation Moves and a sub-controller. The reason why you need two Moves AND a sub-controller is because the sub-controller doesn't support motion gaming at all, and the Move doesn't have that analog stick you find on the sub. Some games will require Move + sub, some will require two Moves. You also need one PlayStation Eye that services all four players. Let's price these components out, hypothetically.

Oh but wait, how many Moves does the PlayStation support?

Sony just confirmed for us that the PS3 will be able to support at most four Move controllers at once, or, two Move controllers and two sub-controllers. So four people will be able to play simultaneously if they only use one Move each, or two people if you're playing with a Move and a sub.

Suppose you started off by purchasing the PlayStation Move + Eye bundle—the one that Sony says will be priced at less than $100. This is a fair entry point to the experience, seeing as not many PS3 owners have the PlayStation Eye to start out with, since there aren't very many supported games. Let's price that bundle at $80. The Eye by itself is $40, so we'll say that the Move is $50, by itself. Here's why.

Mental Math: The PlayStation Move Experience Is Going to Be Expensive

We price the Move at $50 in order to be in line with the Wiimote + MotionPlus bundle, because Nintendo's controllers have somewhat equivalent tech to Sony's Move. (The Move actually has more advanced tech, with the LED ball on the end and better motion tracking, but to the end user, the experience is similar.) $55 is also the price of a DualShock 3, to compare the price to a controller Sony already sells. So $80 for the first bundle, which is logically cheaper than buying everything separately, plus you have a game in there for free.

To have a "full" experience, you need just one PlayStation Eye, but two Moves and a sub-controller per player. And since the sub-controller doesn't have motion (but does have wireless), we'll price it at $30. The first player gets set up with the Eye and the Move bundle for $80. He still needs another Move and a sub-controller, which is an additional $80. That's $160. Every subsequent player only needs two Moves and a sub, which is $130, in our thought experiment. That's a total of $550 for all four players. Holy shit. The second player needs one too, so it's $130. That's a total of $290.

Mental Math: The PlayStation Move Experience Is Going to Be Expensive

These are all hypothetical numbers, conjured up because they're reasonable and in line with pricing we've seen before from Sony, which prices higher than Nintendo. But, if we wanted to try this with more aggressive pricing that's in-line with what Nintendo has, we can price the Move at $40 and the sub-controller at $20. That also brings down the bundle price to $70. Using these numbers, you have $430 for the total price for four players $230 for the total price.

What does this mean? Since Sony confirmed to us that you can have at most four Moves or two Moves and two subs connected at once, it changes the landscape a bit. Because the hardware limitation caps the amount of controllers you need to buy, you can get away with spending less and still getting the "maximum" amount of enjoyment that any given developer intended you to have.

Well, even if you factor in the low end pricing, you're still going to have to pay more for controllers than you are for the actual console itself. This is true of both the PS3 (base console price: $300) and the Wii (base console price: $200), but the PS3's is so much more expensive than the Wii's. It's a good thing that Sony is making it possible for you to play at least some normal games with the Move and the sub-controller combo, because imagine having to buy regular DualShock 3 controllers on top of this.

But, a-ha! Natal! Even if the base price of Microsoft's Xbox 360 add-on is priced somewhere upwards of $100, that's all you'll ever need to buy for motion gaming. You can add on a second, third or fourth player (though maybe Microsoft will limit it to two) to your motion gaming with no additional cost! Microsoft isn't going to charge you money for your limbs, as much as they probably would like to. But if they did, that would be the first and last acceptable use of the cliche about charging an arm and a leg for something.

Update: Reader Josh reminds us that the PlayStation 3 only supports 7 Bluetooth devices simultaneously. If this is true, then we'll theoretically never hit that ceiling of eight devices (two Moves per person, times four people). But, are the Moves any different from the standard PS3 controllers? Can it theoretically support more than 7? Has the PS3 Slim upped this number any? Interesting questions that we're looking into.

Update 2: Corrected text to reflect the fact that the system supports only four PS3 move controllers simultaneously. That's either four Move controllers or two Moves and two sub controllers.