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Microsoft acquires 3D camera technology – desperate to beat the Wii?

By on February 19, 2009
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Israeli website Haaretz reports that Microsoft is in advanced talks to acquire 3DV Systems, a manufacturer of a sophisticated imaging controller that allows a web camera to act like a sophisticated game controller. (Thanks to GI.biz for the lead).

Haaretz makes it clear this is not an brilliant exit: the mooted price is USD 35 millon, while the company has raised $38.6 million to date. Investors include ElronPitango, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and RDC Rafael Development Corporation.

The technology is said to be similar to that of the Eye Toy but with better spatial recognition, and may even be better at sensing 3D positions than the Wiimote.

So it seems logical that Microsoft would make the acquisition to strengthen its credentials as an accessible gaming platform, given that the Wii and to a lesser extent the PlayStation (with products like EyeToy, Singstar and Buzz) are much more clearly seen as family-friendly brands.

The problem for Microsoft is that the view in people’s minds is already quite entrenched: in the mainstream media, the Wii, with its “revolutionary” controller, is the only family console. Making acquisitions to catch up on Nintendo’s Wiimote makes sense; it will a longer pull to move the Xbox out of the realm of fanboys.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com