Sony stole the show at E3 by countering Microsoft's policies regarding the used game market and announcing a launch price for the PlayStation 4 that undercuts the Xbox One's debut cost by $100, but IGN reports that the victory came at great cost to the PS4's camera accessory. The original plan at Sony involved bundling the camera with the PS4 as Microsoft has packed its new Kinect with the Xbox One, but in order to get the PS4's price down to $399, the camera had to go. Here's Scott Lowe with the story:
Microsoft's decision to bundle a Kinect with each Xbox One and require it for use may be unpopular, but it guarantees that every user will have the option to try Kinect-enabled games and experiences. For developers, it means that Kinect integration is no longer a costly gamble on a small subsection of Xbox owners — motion-detecting and voice-sensing elements can be anything from a small optional game enhancement or the primary control method.
By relegating the camera to a $59.99 add-on, Sony has ensured the opposite — a climate of codependency wherein PlayStation 4 camera adoption will hinge upon compelling software, but compelling software will only arrive after PlayStation 4 camera adoption.
There's still a way to push the camera into homes if that's what Sony truly wants to do, and it involves a strategy that Nintendo tried years ago: bundle the camera with a truly amazing game. Donkey Kong 64 was packed with the required Expansion Pak. Mario Party 6 included a microphone. Donkey Konga came with the DK bongo drums. Animal Crossing: City Folk featured the Wii Speak peripheral. The flip side to this strategy is that none of those accessories really caught on with the mass market and few of those games were really that amazing, sadly, but maybe Sony would have more luck with the idea if Uncharted 4 or the next God of War sequel required the camera in a way that was beneficial to the game and didn't completely irritate the audience with tacked-on camera functions. The camera needs to be something that players see as indispensable. Make that happen and sales will follow.