SAN FRANCISCO - Sony is certain that console videogame lovers want to be more immersed than ever in big, bold on-screen adventures.
The Japanese electronics and entertainment giant is backing its belief with blockbuster 3D titles, motion-based controls, and a Sharp Shooter faux assault rifle which players can use to pick off in-game enemies.
"We see it as the holy grail of gaming," Sony spokesman Al de Leon told said a PlayStation Lounge set up at the South By Southwest Interactive festival this week in Texas.
"To be completely immersed in the gaming experience whether it is visually with the addition of 3D or physically with PlayStation Move you are getting a realistic experience."
Sony has sold more than 4.1 million Move accessories for PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles since the motion-sensing controls hit the market in September of last year.
The Sharp Shooter accessory - a plastic rifle that holds Move wands - launched in the United States and Europe in February with the global release of a Killzone 3 shooter game playable in 3D.
"We've seen tremendous response from consumers since the release of the PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter a few weeks ago," de Leon said.
"It's clear that PS3 owners are looking for a truly engaging experience with the Sharp Shooter that takes them one step further into the middle of combat."
Game lovers in the PlayStation Lounge used the Sharpshooter to exchange gunfire in dockside fight scenes in SOCOM 4: US Navy SEALs warfare title due out in April.
Nearby, Sony Computer Entertainment America assistant producer for product development Victor Harris showed off play in an Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception title featuring an Indiana Jones-style action hero.
The videogame was slated for release in November.
In-game protagonist Nathan Drake climbed, jumped, brawled, and shot his way out of a burning chateau in vivid 3D.
Glowing embers, flickering dust, and gray smoke swirled in the air around the character as he leapt for handholds that seemed to jut from flame-licked walls. Running up to ledges triggered touches of vertigo in a player.
"We are always striving for more cinematic experiences," Harris said.
"People don't want to feel like they are playing a game," he added. "They want to feel like they are involved; it is their movie."
An inFAMOUS 2 title created for PS3 by Sucker Punch studio gets players even more involved by letting them design missions to share with others linked to a PlayStation online community.
Sucker Punch developers kept control of the main story line in the action game focused on a hero with the power to wield electricity. The title will be released in June.
"We can't do crazy stuff," Sucker Punch co-founder Chris Zimmerman told AFP at a recent Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
"But the crazy stuff is fun," he continued. "Users come up with these wacky things we would never put in the game, and that is exciting."
Sucker Punch added tools to that allow players to easily set up timed races, battle challenges, and other missions.
Sony found the user generated content model a hit with a Little Big Planet videogame, first released in 2008, that let people create and share games.
"For Sony, it is certainly a priority to hit this play-create-share mode that Little Big Planet introduced," Zimmerman said.
"It is less about one guy in his basement playing a videogame and more about that person being part of a worldwide community of people playing that game," he added. "When you pull it off it makes your game bigger, longer, better."
Sony brought 3D play to off-road racing mayhem title MotorStorm Apocalypse as well as shooter game Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, both of which are due out later this year.
The growing popularity of game play on mobile gadgets and at online social networking websites has put pressure on publishers to build richer, more realistic experiences into videogame play on consoles.
"What you are really seeing is people are interested in something deeper," de Leon said. "They may be more selective with games... and we are seeing 3D and Move really pique consumer interest."
Sony has sold about 48 million PS3 consoles worldwide since they hit the market in November of 2006.