|The Book of Spells by J.K. Rowling, a Wonderbook interactive book, is demonstrated during the Sony news conference, as part of the E3, in Los Angeles June 4, 2012. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas
LOS ANGELES -- The novelty of playing video games by waving one's arms around helped propel the Nintendo Wii and its motion-sensing controller to huge sales successes, and has made Microsoft's Kinect accessory for the Xbox 360 one of the must-have holiday presents for the last two years in a row.
But Sony, which hasn't snagged the same degree of pop-culture mindshare with its own PlayStation Move motion controller for the PlayStation 3, is enlisting the help of the world's most famous wizard -- or rather, the wizard's creator -- to introduce the magic of motion control to a wider audience.
Sony is readying a line of interactive storybooks called Wonderbook, which will use the PlayStation Move motion controller and the PlayStation Eye camera to bring books to life on a TV screen. The first title, called Wonderbook: Book of Spells, is collaboration with Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, who is producing new, original content for the project.
"The Wonderbook concept was pitched to J.K. Rowling - and lo and behold, that was something she was always interested in, an interactive version of a book," said Sony Computer Entertainment of America president and CEO Jack Tretton.
"She was quite interested in the concept, but when she saw it in practice she became even more interested," said Tretton, in a Canadian-exclusive interview with QMI Agency. Rowling, in a prepared statement, said, "Wonderbook: Book of Spells is the closest a Muggle can come to a real spellbook - this is an extraordinary device that offers a reading experience like no other."
Revealed at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles and set to be released late this year, Wonderbook will consist of a photo-album sized physical book that will take on augmented reality properties when viewed on the TV screen via the PlayStation Eye camera.
Readers will use the PlayStation Move controller to interact with the book, such as casting familiar Harry Potter spells by waving the controller like a wand. The Wonderbook tome with the Book of Spells software will sell for $39.99 US, or $69.99 US in a bundle with the PlayStation Move controller and PlayStation Eye camera. Additional Wonderbook software will be sold separately.
To date, Sony has sold roughly 13 million Move controllers, compared to Microsoft's 19 million sales of the significantly more expensive Kinect accessory. "I certainly don't think you can argue with their success," Tretton said of Kinect, but added, "I think it was marketing-driven, and it will be a question of whether there are compelling software experiences that keep people involved."