E3 2012: Is Sony’s Wonderbook doomed to fail like THQ’s Udraw?

During Sony’s press conference, the developer unveiled a new hardware add-on for the PlayStation 3, the Wonderbook. The Wonderbook uses the PlayStation Eye Camera to create a new way for Harry Potter fans to experience books in augmented reality fashion. Using the Wonderbook, users can interact with the pages in a popup book form.

Sony unveiled its first big property title for the add-on, J.K Rowling’s Book of Spells. Book of Spells is a fictional title that is well known throughout the Harry Potter universe. The book tells the story of how many standard spells came to be and the history behind them. Using the PlayStation Move Controller, fans can interact with the pages and cast spells just like a real student of Hogwarts.

The creator of Harry Potter even gave her impressions on Sony’s new device:

“Wonderbook: Book of Spells is the closest a Muggle can come to a real spellbook. I’ve loved working with Sony’s creative team to bring my spells, and some of the history behind them, to life. This is an extraordinary device that offers a reading experience like no other.”

The Wonderbook is due out later this year, but some may say it is doomed to repeat the failure of THQ’s Udraw. The Udraw, much like Wonderbook, catered to children and aimed to be a fun educational tool. The Udraw sold 1.7 million units in early 2011 for the Wii, leading THQ to mass produce more units and port the add-on to the 360 and the PS3. Despite having big property titles like Sponge Bob Square Pants, Disney Princesses and Kung Fu Panda, THQ announced Udraw was a colossal failure after its 2011 Holiday Quarterly earnings were revealed. 1.4 million unsold Udraw units sat in THQ’s warehouse and the developer reported $55.9 million in losses. In February of this year, THQ announced they would no longer produce new hardware or software for the Udraw.

Despite having only one title currently set to release for the Wonderbook, its integration with the PlayStation Move may be the one thing the new device has going for it. At Sony’s Press Conference last year, it was reported that they had sold more than 8.8 Million units for the PlayStation Move. With the Wonderbook currently set to be retailed at $39.99 (book and game), new add-on shouldn’t be too much of a financial burden for parents come the holiday season. Only time will tell whether or not the Wonderbook is a success. It is set to be released Holiday of this year.

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