I got to try out Kinect over the weekend, and I had enough hands on time with Microsoft’s full-body motion controller to get a decent impression. This isn’t a review, per se, but it’s still going to be a decent summary of my thoughts on it.
Kinect, if you’ve somehow managed to avoid the copious amount of information about it over the last year, is a sensor bar that hooks up to your Xbox 360 and uses an infrared scan of your body as input in specific games as opposed to the remote-wand set up used by the Wii and the PlayStation Move. The major hook of Kinect is the lack of any extraneous methods of control: it’s just the game and your body. There are no complicated button combos to remember, no dual analog sticks to fumble around with. By making the game an extension of yourself, Microsoft hopes to tap into the casual market by removing arguably the largest obstruction for new gamers: controllers. Does Kinect work in this regard, or was Kevin Butler right about the need for buttons?
After all the months of speculation, ridicule and “is that actually what I’m going to look like playing that thing”, the launch week of Microsoft’s Kinect has finally arrived. The hands-free motion control system will be out tomorrow in North America, prompting all of its purchasers to get their Wavy McJiggleArms swinging. I jest, but I am actually interested to see what this thing does, especially considering that it is Microsoft’s big horse, on which it is pinning many of its gaming dreams.
So how do they feel about it? If you ask Aaron Greenberg, head of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, he thinks it will do just swimmingly. He feels so strongly about this, he believes it will sell units even in the face of negative game reviews for Kinect’s launch titles.
We all knew that Microsoft had deep pockets, but I would have never pegged them as the kind to go hog wild with their limitless font of cash. Apparently I was wrong in that assumption, because the software giant has pledged half a billion dollars to promote Kinect, the controller-free peripheral launching November 4 for the Xbox 360.
According to the New York Post, Microsoft began planning the multifaceted launch of Kinect almost 18 months ago with the help of Stephen Spielberg. With such a large amount of money dedicated to getting Kinect on everyone’s minds, we can expect to see the little black sensor pop everywhere from soda cans and magazines to the TV shows Glee and Dancing with the Stars. All this is going towards getting Kinect in the minds of parents for the upcoming holiday season, where it will be squaring off against the Wii and Sony’s newly launched Move controller.
If you thought the ad campaigns for Halo 3 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 got annoying leading up to launch, just wait until you can’t round a corner without seeing Kinect. To be fair, we’re not really the target audience for the sensor, but I’m sure there will be some “core” gamers out there picking it up.
I think this makes it more than clear that Microsoft is in love with the technology behind Kinect, and they’re really throwing the whole Xbox division behind it. Now, I don’t consider technically consider myself a Microsoft fanboy, but I’m kind of worried what the possible failure of Kinect will do to the console. While I think that Microsoft can take the hit overall, we may see the end of the Xbox if this doesn’t work. Half a billion is a lot of money, even if it is just a drop in the bucket for Microsoft.
This kind of news is just begging for your comments, so let us know what you think! Can half a billion guarantee a good showing for Kinect this holiday? Will a possible failure spell doom for future versions of the Xbox?
Well, today is just the Saturday of deals, isn’t it? In addition to the XBox Live thank you gift Anthony posted about earlier, here’s another one for all of you dudes wondering how many couch cushions you’re going to have to turn over to get the rest of the games on your Fall list: GameStop’s trade in values for October 2010.
One of the most legendary games of all time was Steel Battalion for the Xbox, mainly due to it’s incredibly complex controller, pictured here. 40 buttons and 2 control sticks were needed to play this game and few did, though likely because of the $200.00 price tag. Well, as we have seen, one of the main themes of this new generation of consoles has been streamlining and Capcom just set the bar as the newly announced Steel Battalion will have no buttons.
That’s right, as revealed at the Tokyo Game Show and reported by 1UP.com’s Frank Cifaldi, the sequel to the giant mech game will be a Kinect exclusive. How such a thing is even possible is beyond me, but color me intrigued. Other than Child of Eden, this is the first “hardcore” game revealed for Kinect, so perhaps they aren’t leaving their core demographic behind with their shiny new peripheral.
Did anyone out there play Steel Battalion? Would you be interested in buying a Kinect for this? Or will it just be another rail-shooter? Your keyboard has more than 40 buttons…use them now!
As both Sony and Microsoft follow the lead of Nintendo in the motion control front, there has been a question over which is more suitable to either hardcore or casual audiences. In my mind, there are bigger concerns about Kinect’s target audience. After the showing at E3, I’ve maintained that Kinect isn’t for gamers – it’s for their spouses, girlfriends, moms, etc. Microsoft is going after a new audience altogether, it seems.
Well, as of last week there’s perhaps more fuel to add to the fire. At a Kinect launch event, Microsoft made some rather objectionable comments about gamers, in what appears to be an attempt to connect (get it?) with a casual and non-gaming consumer. Here is what Microsoft’s regional entertainment guru, David McLean, had to say:
Gaming’s not just for sweaty thirty year olds in Metallica t-shirts…
Motion control. I know, we’re all tired of debating the subject to death, but it’s here to stay and we’ll just have to live with the bonuses and negatives it brings. This will be especially true when both Move and Kinect launch this Fall, bringing a whole slew of new talking points to the conversation.
And while I hate to sound like a broken record here: the motion control trend concerns me, but most notably with Kinect. I think the technology that they’ve put together is fantastic and innovative, but the software we’ve seen so far, not so much. Take for example the new Kinect Harry Potter demo shown off this week at Gamescom. What might seem like a perfect fit for motion controls (who wouldn’t want to blast Death Eaters with wands), looks to be a downright mess. I’ll let you check it out.
I think the easiest thing to take note of is something I’ve wondered about Kinect for awhile now. With no buttons or controller at all (like Move or the Wii), how does one, you know… move through a game environment? The Forza demo shown at E3 had no way of accelerating or braking. Likewise, the Harry Potter demo displays no discernible way of moving the wizards through the, erm, wizarding world. Watch as the Weasley twins stop moving—that’s when the characters on screen run.
Basically, when you want to progress—stop moving. The gameplay then stops, Death Eaters appear, and then you engage in completely imprecise looking attacks. The Move equivalent of this game is Sorcery, and it seems to be light years ahead in comparison.
Honestly, I’m shocked at the way all of this is unfolding. Every new demonstration I’ve seen of Kinect leaves me more and more underwhelmed. What do you guys think? Too soon to judge, even though this thing debuts in just a few short months?
We are about a month away from the launch of Sony’s Playstation Move and in November, Microsoft will release Kinect. The two devices, rather than being similar, are actually quite different and seem to cater to two different mindsets of gamers out there.
Personally, I’m not looking seriously at buying either one of them, but if I had to choose, I think Move has that hardcore edge I would be looking for. Plus, I like buttons and I’m lazy.That being said, I think Kinect will outsell Move by a wide margin. The money of Microsoft and the allure of something so high tech will trap the casual game market more so than the precision that Move seems to offer.
Microsoft’s full-body motion controller Kinect, formally known as Natal, may enable mute players to have better options for communicating with their friends over X-Box LIVE. While the interface previously allowed users to utilize the chat pad to talk to their party over LIVE, this is a fairly clumsy and inconvenient way of chatting. This is set to change with Kinect, which apparently recognizes American Sign Language and can relay the signing to the party.
While this is a fairly unprecedented use for Kinect, it is rather ingenious on Microsoft’s part to include this function. While we all take the ability to talk for granted, there are segments of the gaming population that aren’t so lucky. This could open LIVE to a whole new branch of gamers, so I for one applaud Microsoft for thinking of handicapped gamers in this instance.
Update: Well, I’m the first to admit that I’m not perfect, and it seems that I’ve got some backtracking to do on this one. In VG247’s original article, it mentioned that a patent that indicated Kinect’s ability to understand and relay American Sign Language. However wonderful a dream this may have been, it’s not the case in real life. Kinect will not recognize ASL at launch, and will probably never have the ability to do so. In order to reach the $150 retail price, Microsoft had to cut some features from Kinect to “dumb it down”, and ASL capability was on the chopping block. It’s a shame, because this would have been a really cool addition to the motion camera. Mea culpa. Read the whole story here: Kotaku
1 vs. 100 was a beast of a different kind, something that we don’t get to experience all that often. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this bold product, 1 vs. 100 was an X-Box LIVE game show based on a TV program of the same name where “The One” would compete against “The Mob” for prizes. As far as LIVE offerings went, it was very original and quite outside of the normal offerings on consoles.
As well received as 1 vs. 100 was, Microsoft has unfortunately decided to pull the plug on that particular endeavor, meaning that the quiz game will not be returning for a third season. When asked about the cancellation, Microsoft Game Studio’s General Manager Dave McCartney stated the he was very proud of the team backing up the game, and was excited to see what could come in the future due to what they’ve learned from the process.
This is kind of a shame, consider that I never got to try it, and I continuously hear from some other GamerSushi staff members how much they enjoyed playing it. What do you guys think of this turn of events? Is 1 vs. 100 gone forever, or can we expect a Kinect re-launch under a different name?
Update: Kotaku posted a farewell letter from the 1 vs. 100 team, as well as a link to some insight as to why the game went under.
Everyone is crapping all over Microsoft’s E3 press conference and though we mentioned some of this in our podcast, I thought it would help if we devoted a post to some of the concerns that gamers have about Microsoft’s foray into motion-controls.
Personally, I am amazed by the technology and the potential of Kinect. The voice recognition is very impressive and I think it can be utilized in better ways than simply telling your Xbox to pause a movie. Imagine navigation the Dashboard with it: “Xbox Marketplace” and bam! You’re browsing games or looking at your friends list. You can walk around the room and command your Xbox to start playing a disk without using a controller. I think that would be more useful than the admittedly cooler looking Minority Report-style interface. Sure that looks bad-ass, but using a controller is just faster and I am all about streamlining things. I’m not going to wave my arms around just because I want to look like something I saw in a movie. If I wanted to look like Tony Stark, I would shave my goatee like his and build and Iron Man Suit. Continue reading Dis-Kinect
As you’ll hear in our podcast that releases tonight/tomorrow, we have some pretty harsh words for the XBox Kinect. I was never too amped about the thing to begin with, but Monday’s press conference raised some concerns about the technology and the kinds of games that are going to be associated with it.
While I’ve been telling myself that I don’t want to judge it too harshly before it’s even available for regular mortals like you and I to try out for ourselves, it’s hard to watch things like Kinectimals and remain optimistic about the whole thing. People that have tried it out at E3 so far seem to be mostly positive, however, IGN posted a well thought article titled 5 Concerns about Kinect, which totally hit on some things that I had been thinking about since the press conference bomb.
As I said, they raise some good points, and the most disconcerting one is the assertion that some Kinect developers are saying that you can’t play Kinect while sitting on a couch. This has always been one of the big barriers for me and motion control. I’m not a lazy guy by any means, but when I sit down to play games, I like having a controller and hanging out on my couch. It seems that Kinect has problems recognizing a skeletal frame when it is sitting down. In fact, the IGN article actually said this earlier, but was later edited. According to VG247, a Microsoft rep says that this experience differs depending on the game. Once again, it’s far too early to tell this, but it’s definitely food for thought as the launch window rapidly approaches.
So what do you guys think? Fair or foul if you can only play Kinect while standing?
Update: IGN released a kind of retraction later, though the quote here is slightly different from the one given to VG247. Regardless, Kinect still didn’t work well with folks sitting down at E3, and signs point to this perhaps being a future issue with certain games, so this topic stands.
Ever since last year’s Microsoft press conference at E3 2009, people around the gaming industry have been wondering about what their new motion control system, codenamed Natal, was eventually going to end up being named. We saw a similar thing several years ago, when the Nintendo “Revolution” wound up with the then-strange-but-now-household moniker: “Wii”. Well, news has finally dropped tonight. Natal’s final title will be the Xbox “Kinect”.
While the name certainly isn’t everything, and I see the idea they’re going for, I actually thought Natal was kind of catchy in the same sense that “Wii” was, because it represented something new that we hadn’t seen before. With no controllers, Kinect is certainly going to be an interesting evolution of the motion control platform. By all accounts, this makes Sony’s Move seem like a stroke of genius in comparison.
In addition to that piece of news, there are also reports of the long-rumored “slim” XBox 360 finally making its debut at E3 this week, along with pictures of the new model. Supposedly, the only difference between this new model and the old ones is that the HDD is 250 GB and it also has built-in Wi Fi. To me, this design seems like a step back, especially compared to the PS3 slim, which was such a well done re-design of a system. This rumored model is sharp and angular. If this ends up being real, they might as well call it the XBox 360 Orthanc, after Saruman’s tower in Lord of the Rings.
Anyway, there has also been a short list of Kinect’s launch games, which include a dance game as well as a Wii Sports ripoff. So what do you guys think of all of these developments? Do you like the name Kinect?