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My Kinect Concerns

June 13, 2010

I’ve got some serious concerns regarding Microsoft’s Kinect that’s coming out this year. With almost unstoppable flow of information coming out tonight in advance of the Cirque de Soleil event tonight and the full conference tomorrow we’ve got a better idea of what Microsoft’s goal is with the device. These are some the issues that, on the eve of its coming out party, that I have:

Just one of the items vying for gamers' cash this fall.

1. Price

Ever since the leak about its price, I can’t help but think “Do I want to spend $150 on this?” and I don’t think I’m the only person who would be thinking this. Considering the time period that this is launching in, the Fall, you can expect most 360 owners to be already dropping about $120 minimum on the two big shooters coming out, Halo: Reach and Call of Duty: Black Ops. I don’t think the hardcore base is going to be willing to drop almost $300 total, plus whatever else it’ll cost to get another game for Kinect. On the other hand that leads us to my next concern…

2. Too Casual

It’s no surprise that Microsoft is aiming for the casual crowd with Kinect, they want to grab the people who purchased a Wii and played it that weekend but has since gathered dust in their TV cabinet. It’s proved incredibly lucrative for Nintendo and Microsoft wants a chunk of that pie. But it feels like they’re abandoning the people who made the Xbox brand what it is: the hardcore crowd. When you look at the top games, they’re all action games that are M rated. That may be a comment on the industry as a whole, but for the most part the Xbox crowd is that 20-30 something male and maybe his girlfriend or wife. It’s not the parents with their young kids or their teen daughters like they keep showing in the advertisement.

Very little difference between Kinect Sports and Wii Resort

What has this led to? The games that I mentioned in the earlier post. Kinect Sports which a complete ripoff of Wii Sports, Kinectimals sounding conspicuously like a Microsoft version of Nintendogs, etc. These are not the games that will be luring in the backbone of the Xbox brand. Time will tell if these pull in a new demographic or if they flop.

3. Name

This doesn’t sound like a big thing, but try and explain to someone who doesn’t follow video games much what “Kinect” is. I can guarantee that they’re not going to guess that it’s a motion device. Rather, it sounds like some sort of social networking program or what have you. People have pointed out that it’s a take on kinetic but I really don’t think many people will latch onto that. I really think that Microsoft could’ve come up with something better to describe the product more clearly, or they could’ve stuck with a mysterious and quirky name like Natal that would’ve caused people to go “What the heck is that?” and go to Google and figure it out.

4. It’s A Peripheral

This is just a killer in general, peripherals have a terrible history of success. Kinect, and Playstation Move for that matter, need to break the trend of half-assed peripherals that are quickly abandoned after a few months. It doesn’t seem like Microsoft is taking this approach since they’re putting so much effort into launching it and marketing the device. But that doesn’t negate the fact that this is going to be a tough sell because on top of a $300 plus purchase, Microsoft is asking fans to go out and buy another expensive addition to their console to play a few games.

Microsoft's first major peripheral, the Vision, was abandoned quickly.

5. Where’s the Killer App?

The Xbox had Halo, the 360 had Gears of War, what is Natal going to have? Granted not all of the software has come out, but so far there hasn’t been something that’s calling me out and saying “Buy me!” and think that’ll be a problem for many people. The draw of Minority Report style menu scrolling isn’t going to be enough, Microsoft is either going to need to attach one of their big name franchises, such as Halo or Gears of War to Kinect, or come up the next major franchise for the brand. We’ll find out if that’s the case tomorrow.

Kinect needs its own Halo or Gears of War to truly be successful.

I know some people may think that I’m slamming Kinect, and in a way I am, but it’s because I really want to see this succeed. I feel that Kinect has potential to be a great way to become immersed in games in a new way beyond the Wii and Move. But as great as the hardware is, I feel like Microsoft has dropped the ball in the software and marketing department and that’s a shame. I truly hope my fears are nothing more than chasing shadows.

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From → Video Games

One Comment
  1. echo1sniper permalink

    I agree with everything you are saying. The price is pretty terrible for what it is giving us, if it had it’s own killer app. like a GoW, Halo or CoD then I would look into it but without any kind of mature big title game for it I don’t see the point. If I want to spend 150$ bucks for something that can get me moving around I rather just go buy a Wii or some new basketball shoes. I’m sure it will be cool to move through the menus without the controller and I’m sure some of the games will be fun to play with the little cousins when they come over but 150$ just is too much for something like that. If I end up buying the Leg. edition Reach, GoW3 and possibly the new CoD or MoH then I am practically buying a whole new system already without getting Kinect + the price of Kinect games.

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