Sony’s new EyeToy may be the Pong of its time. Just as that game’s white blip rebounded hypnotically across TV screens in the 1970s to become the precursor of today’s lush 3D gaming realms; the EyeToy could be the start of a truly immersive gaming experience.
Though new to consumers in November, the EyeToy ($49.99) has already sold 1,000,000 units in Europe as of last June. The concept is simple: By plugging the EyeToy camera into a USB port on any Playstation 2 console, the camera’s motion-tracking technology captures the player’s image on the TV screen, letting him interact directly with games.
“One of our goals was to bring realism to gaming, while broadening the reach of the audience,” says Jennifer Clark, PR Manager for Sony Computer Entertainment. “We’ve opened the technology up to third party developers, so they can incorporate it into more advanced games.”
EyeToy’s current offerings won’t be called “advanced” by anyone familiar with video games. Games such as “Kung Foo,” where cartoon-like ninjas leap at the player to be swatted and chopped; or “Wishy Washy,” where players must use their arms to “clean” soap suds from the TV screen, are more about fun than realism.
“It’s a crowd-pleasing party game,” says Clark. “Kids love it the most, but it’s a game parents can play with them. Even grandparents like it.”
Kids love Sony’s EyeToy
But Sony obviously sees greater potential in EyeToy’s technology. “The camera is built hi-tech, with an eye toward the future,” said Clark. “There’s a built-in microphone that allows people to leave 60-second video messages.” Meaning, you can leave a video challenge goading a friend to beat your score, or let EyeToy double as a high-tech message pad.
EyeToy Groove, a dance-oriented game, will debut this month with new songs from Madonna and Micheal Jackson.