Kinect success or failure down to the games

Kinect success or failure down to the games

Summary: A lot of ink (real and virtual) was used up yesterday on Microsoft's new add-on for the Xbox 360 called Kinect (previously code-named natal) which basically turns your body into a games controller.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Mobility, Microsoft
16

A lot of ink (real and virtual) was used up yesterday on Microsoft's new add-on for the Xbox 360 called Kinect (previously code-named natal) which basically turns your body into a games controller.

What is Kinect? Well, here's a video showing it in action.

Looks pretty cool, right? A bit like a Nintendo Wii but without the nunchucks. As well as offering control features, it'll also allow for facial and voice recognition and video chat too.

Now, the question is, will it be a hit or a miss? Back when Nintendo announced the Wii, folks were skeptical. Pundits didn't like the name, thought the controls would suck, and worried about lag and the lack of good games to make use of the control system. As it turned out, these fears were unfounded and the Wii was a runaway success.

It's clear what Microsoft is trying to do here. Basically there's little that separates Xbox from Sony's PlayStation 3 since the games are usually available for both consoles simultaneously. What Nintendo did with the Wii was carve out for itself a niche that offered different games and a different gaming experience. It worked. What Microsoft is trying to do is a similar thing, only three and a half years later.

Let's do some number crunching. Nintendo has sold some 70 million Wii units, Microsoft some 40 million Xbox 360 units, and Sony some 35 million PlayStation 3 units. This means that Microsoft certainly has the user base to push this sort of add-on onto. Sony is also playing catch-up, with it's wand-based motion controller not due until the fall of this year, giving Microsoft the advantage.

But does any of this advantage translate into Kinect being a winning product? No. Only one thing does - the games.

What separated Wii from the rest of the herd was that it took gaming in a new and different direction. Not only did it move away from the pixel-perfect obsession that Microsoft and Sony was chasing, it also introduced gaming to a whole new market of people who previously didn't see themselves as console gamers. This bold, and potentially risky move, paid off. But it paid off not because people were jazzed by the tech, but because people liked the games. If Microsoft is going to convince people to part with $150 for Kinect on top of the price of a 360, the games not only need to be good, they need to be fantastic and capture the imagination of gamers.

Success and failure of Kinect will come down to the games. Sure, there's a price barrier for those making the leap to the 360 in that they need to buy the console and Kinect, but if the games are good enough, I can see this being good for Microsoft.

What does it mean for gamers? Well, I guess it means that the 360 will get exclusive games (and possibly exclusive features for other games) that PS3 users won't get. It fragments the market in Microsoft's favor. But again, it's down to the games and whether Microsoft can convince studios that Kinect is a good bet to invest in.

If Kinect, along with a raft of good games are released in time for the holiday spending extravaganza, then this could get some serious traction.

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

16 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Kinect success or failure down to the games

    "But it paid off not because people were jazzed by the tech, but because people liked the games."

    Agreed - Nintendo didn't just create a new controller and call it a day. They also created a bunch of games around that controller that had mass market appeal.

    "Well, I guess it means that the 360 will get exclusive games . . . "

    Every console already has some exclusive games, if you haven't noticed. On the Xbox 360, you have Halo, which isn't available on any of the other consoles.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Kinect success or failure down to the games

      Many of the posters here are saying exactly what I think will be the case. Most people will get it initially for the controls and video aspect is adds to the livingroom, which is why I want tone. but I also noticed the exercise game that had and since it requires no controller - seems like it could be a good fit in my gym also. Microsoft also made a point to compare the price point to the competitions price per unit and the fact that 1 kinect on on TV can support up to 4 users is also a big deal - that comes out to $37.5 per user, thats actually cheaper than their other controls.
      DS-Solutions
  • Honestly, Adrian, games are more of a perk for this user.

    I'm much more interested in the video chat and voice commands. Right now my family uses Skype and webcams to video chat with family on the other side of the country. It's a bit of a pain to get the whole family in front of the computer while keeping kids' hands off the mouse and keyboard.

    With Kinect we can sit in our living room to video chat with family. They don't even have to have Xbox + Kinect -- just Windows Live Messenger.

    To me, that is worth the price of admission.
    ericesque
  • RE: Kinect success or failure down to the games

    I am thinking that at $150 the cool factor alone will sell millions this holiday season which will in turn drive the game developers to develop more Kinect enabled games. I can not wait until I get to be the controller free QB in Madden NFL. <br>Like the above poster I would buy this just for the Video Conferencing, Voice Control, Face recognition, and Motion Media control alone. <br>The Games are just decorations on the already Icing'd cake!
    AboveAverageJoe
  • not the games but the living room

    I predict that this won't be a huge hit for games... most games require some sort of wand or at least some buttons to play well in addition to the motion sensing. I think MS missed to boat by not including something for a hand to hold on to when needed.

    that said.... this could be HUGE for the living room and the xbox as a media extender... using this for control and navigation in addition to other "apps" is where this could really work.
    juser_bogus
    • RE: Kinect success or failure down to the games

      @juser_bogus

      Agreed, there needs to be some type of controls. It allows for more precise gaming, and it just feels more more natural holding a control. The driving clips they showed of players holding "air steering wheels" just look silly.
      dave95.
  • Agree: games are just a perk

    Microsoft XBOX 360 is more than a gaming console. I own 3 all hooked up to TV's in my house and use them for streaming Netflix, HD video streaming from Win7, Zune Music library, pictures from Win7, etc. With Kinect I can now utilize those services easier without having to have an ugly controller at each TV or having to look for the remote.

    The XBOX 360 is THE media device that everyone should own. Personally, I think you will see it become used for Social networking along with the other items mentioned; Video chat, VoIP, IM, showing online presence, group parties, facebook, twitter, etc.

    XBOX 360 gaming console? Think BIGGER Adrian.
    jgoodwin1967
    • RE: Kinect success or failure down to the games

      @jgoodwin1967
      Huh? No blu-ray, no entertainment device. Check back when they get that.
      Droid101
      • Blu-Ray is legacy

        @Droid101 Sony may have won the HD optical format war, but it is going to die a slow death as HD streaming steals the show. That's why on XBox 360 you can stream HD movies from Netflix or the Zune Marketplace.

        Why would anyone buy 10 movies for nearly $200 when the same $200 will buy you 2 years worth of Netflix?
        ericesque
      • RE: Kinect success or failure down to the games

        @Droid101 Big deal. I can get 1080p movies streaming direct from the Zune service on the Xbox. If I wanted Blu-ray I'd buy a cheap player for them, but I've not felt the need.
        A.Sinic
      • RE: Kinect success or failure down to the games

        @Droid101 interesting concept - considering I have both systems and probably own about 5 blue rays. Streaming to me is more convenient on the 360. Ever try accessing networked music on the ps3 as opposed to the 360? The experience can't be compared, but at the end of the day it's a matter of choice and for lots of people I know if they have both - the ps3 is a secondary system
        DS-Solutions
  • How is this any different from...

    A PS2/3 with an EyeToy and a software/game that detects and reacts to movement?
    pool7
    • It's a hell of a lot smarter...

      @pool7 The EyeToy mapped everything in 2D for starters. Kinect is 3D-- which means input is a lot more precise. Did EyeToy even have audio? I only played with the PS2 one way back.
      Either way, I'm pretty sure EyeToy ONLY controlled games. It wasn't integrated into the system as a controller. There was no facial recognition. There was no voice recognition. No video conferencing. It did not have motorized tracking.

      Is that enough ways?
      ericesque
    • RE: Kinect success or failure down to the games

      @pool7 I have the ps3 eyetoy and had the ps2 one also, it's a good camera but it's not anything more than a camera with software. I hardly would compare it to the Kinect
      DS-Solutions
  • Anyone see the video demo?

    Seems to be something wrong here how the game character actually moves before the demonstrator does. It is very obvious that this was scripted or something.

    http://www.mcvuk.com/news/39470/E3-2010-Star-Wars-Kinect-video

    Not a very good sell point if you ask me.
    bobiroc
  • This whole article is pointless.

    Success and failure of Move will come down to the games. Sure, there's a price barrier for those making the leap to the PS3 in that they need to buy the console and Move, but if the games are good enough, I can see this being good for Sony.<br><br>What does it mean for gamers? Well, I guess it means that the PS3 will get exclusive games (and possibly exclusive features for other games) that Xbox users wont get. It fragments the market in Sony's favor. But again, it's down to the games and whether Sony can convince studios that Move is a good bet to invest in.
    Dudevid