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Sony's Marks: 'Doesn't Make Sense' To Ditch Traditional Gamepad

Sony Computer Entertainment America R&D manager Dr. Richard Marks tells Gamasutra "the gamepad is a really good abstract device," so don't expect motion offerings to c
In 2006, Nintendo took a big risk and introduced the motion-controlled Wii, ditching the standard gamepad for a wand and a nunchuck. While the subsequent Wii craze is well-documented, don't expect Sony to make such a drastic change to the next PlayStation's standard controller. Asked if the PS3's follow-up would consider ditching a more traditional gamepad for something along the lines of the newer, wand-like PlayStation Move controller, Sony Computer Entertainment America's Dr. Richard Marks replied in a new Gamasutra feature interview, "I don't think that makes sense." He added, "I said that pretty much from the beginning that we're not trying to get rid of the gamepad. The gamepad is a really good abstract device. It can map to so many different things. It doesn't map one-to-one to those things, but it doesn't need to for a lot of game experiences." Marks is R&D manager of special projects at SCEA, having worked on PlayStation cameras EyeToy and PlayStation Eye, and more recently the PlayStation Move, viewed as an answer to the Wii's accessible and successful control scheme. But game companies are realizing that traditional gamepads and their many buttons are a turnoff for the mass market -- two clickable thumbsticks alone can be intimidating, let alone d-pads, shoulder buttons and face buttons. "[The traditional controller] is still intimidating to some audiences, some people," admitted Marks. "And so, those people might like Move better. So, I think having both offered to people kinds of people that want to play is the right choice right now. I think the DualShock, it's just better for some experiences, but the Move is better for other ones." As for Microsoft's competing Kinect for Xbox 360, Marks said he supports any innovation happening in the market. But he said camera technology still has a way to go before having the preciseness of other control offerings. "You need a lot more fidelity [in camera technology] to get the kind of control that you can already get out of the gamepad or Move even," he said. "I think to do some of the more subtle things, it's just not possible right now. And I think it might be a ways off because buttons are very exact. They know exactly what the person intends, they push a button or they don't. And that's a tough one to replace with some kind of other gesture." For more from Marks on his background in robotics and aeronautics, as well as his thoughts on the Kinect and what exactly an R&D manager does during the day, read the full Gamasutra feature, available now.

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