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Dis-Kinection: How Microsoft Has Lost Focus
by Tadhg Kelly on 07/12/10 01:41:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Dear Microsoft,

I know, I know, you look at what's going on over at Nintendo, and what Sony did with EyeToy, and you're thinking "Hey, we're missing out". It's like that episode of Friends where there's two birthday parties, and you're feeling a bit like Monica, trying to force everyone to have fun while guests sneak out under the wire to the other party across the corridor.

I also know that because you're you, you tend to have that "throw it all at the wall" approach to everything you do, from the 10,000 features that sit inside Office and the ten million modules that comprise modern day Windows 7, and you're used to thinking you need to be in every little bit of every little space in order to succeed.

I know. I know this is where Kinect is coming from. But here's the thing. Well, a bunch of things:

1. Kinect doesn't seem very precise

Despite all the big smiles and the obligatory dragging out of a child on stage at D8 to proclaim how fun it all was, the actual demo was stilted, the software seemed pretty unresponsive, the 3D interpolation of that ball floating game seemed less than immediate, and the overall experience looked very random. And the E3 samples seemed the same. I am of course 8000 miles away from California and have never been anywhere near a room containing a Kinect, but my impressions from afar do not augur well.

The movie and chat navigation looks really annoying. It's one of those fun-for-a-demo-but-annoying-in-reality situations. Rather like watching people struggle to point their Wiimotes at the exact spot on the screen to click a menu option the wave-my-arm-and-hold navigation last seen in Eyetoy, now in Kinect, is a tedious way to use software. 

What seems to make a control method long-lived for any console is whether it is capable of complex precision. The reason the Wii has not lived up to its promise, for example, is that the controller is simply not accurate enough for real games, and so it offers little real prospect for mastery. Mastery is what defines a game's real lifespan among players of all stripes, and also a platform's. Ultimately, if I play this for a long time will I still find value in it? Mastery does not have to mean either "hardcore" aesthetics or sophisticated specs. Angry Birds for the iPhone is an example of a game that encourages mastery through precision.  

Kinect seems to me to have a mastery problem. Thus it has a long-term viability problem. In the end of the day, it appears to be registering gross movements of skeleton limbs (so arm and leg flails basically), performing facial recognition and recognising some voice commands. Those are the sorts of inputs that are fun for an afternoon, maybe even a few drunken parties, but you're not going to really want to play through Mass Effect with them.

That means Kinect will be played with for a little while, but then just be forgotten about. Just like the Wii. What it won't do is sell a lot of software over a sustained period. 

2. Your Kinect catalogue is focused on worthy, not sexy

I re-watched the E3 press conference recently, and as your people went through the various software titles, it felt like I was watching a checklist get checked. I could almost visualise the product meeting 18 months ago when people were saying "Sports? Check. Dancing? Check. Nintendogs-alike? Check." and so forth. And that is all that you have to show. Kinect is not cool. I didn't see anything even vaguely approaching a compelling reason to buy this thing. What I saw was barn-door seen-it-before games, like sports and family fun and virtual pets. It's all so very yawn-some. 

These games are so obviously the what-Nintendo-did lineup, but they're hampered by the fact that Nintendo already did them, and the public is pretty bored of them. What you're missing is the sexy.  I wrote about this before, about how developers often choose the path of worthiness (more features, one-upmanship in existing markets, etc) rather than sexiness (doing the thing that everybody else is not doing, creating a stir) because it feels like it's a proven path to take.

Chasing worthiness is usually a mistake unless you really want to look second, or even third place on a list of me-toos. The hit-driven nature of games is such that hits come from being fashionably risky rather than predictably safe. Journalists like to write about risky things, gamers like to check them out if they're cool, etc. 

This trend of worthiness is something that you guys have been struggling with for a while (movies, last.fm, sports, they're all, y'know, a bit obvious). It's all about steady-as-she-goes maturation, and not really about the future. The reason Nintendo owned the casual console trend is because they had focus. You're trying to be a bit of everything, a state highly reminiscent of Sony just prior to their fall from dominance.  

3. Xbox is not the right audience to sell a Wii clone to

It's just not.

Come on, in the dead of night when no-one's looking, you secretly know that nobody in your existing audience gives a damn about avatars, social features or any of the other casual-ification sparkles that you've been trying for ages. I mean it's fun to create your avatar once maybe, but that's about it. Your audience likes action games, shooting stuff, retro games, indie games and achievements. They like to buy "proper" games, and the Xbox 360 is the most "proper" games console we have. What they don't care about is arm-waving flailing trinkets.

Even those that bought Wiis got bored of Wiis pretty damned fast because they realised that there wasn't much shelf-life in them. Your audience wants shelf-life, stuff like Mass Effect or Oblivion or Call of Duty 4 which they can play for months. They think Wii Sports is really lame, and will think the same about Kinect Sports (or whatever it's eventually called), racing, Kinectimals, etc. 

The Xbox is the brand of shooting, killing and prostitute beating. It's called X (as in X-Chromosome, Excelsior, XXX, X-Men and so on) Box after all. Its logo looks a little bit like a wound. Its box packaging is a bit nasty too. Even with the breathe-in sweep on the body and the roundy-font menus that changed Xbox to Xbox 360, its still the boys gaming machine. It's lurid and green, like the Incredible Hulk.

360 feels like the console for guys who used to be sweaty gamers, have cleaned up their act a bit in order to be attractive to women, but deep down inside like to secretly rock out and play air guitar when drunk enough at weddings. 

Moms, on the other hand, are not fooled. Not for one minute. They can smell that air of rancid sweat just under the hood. Even with a huge marketing effort on your part, that Hulk green is what Mom sees. Xbox is not about wholesome family fun in their eyes. It's about shooting stuff. 

Last, even if all of the above were not true, Kinect is three years too late. Casual gaming sort of happened already. Nobody cares about it any more, so there's not really a compelling marketing story. Yet-another-way to do Yoga in your living room or run a party game is passé. 

4. Keeping your eyes on the ball

You are all, I'm sure, far more intelligent men and women than I and you will have all encountered that feeling in which, by taking your eye off one ball, it gives your competitor the chance to come in and steal your lunch. I know you're feeling it on phones and tablets, which Microsoft just missed out on by not paying attention. Apple and RIM came in and made concerted and do-one-thing-wellplays into the WinMobile space and just stole it. 

What you're risking by chasing Nintendo's tail and dividing your attention is essentially repeating the same mistake. See Sony and their collapsed Playstation brand? That's where you're heading. Doing lots of things in many directions is a recipe for poor delivery. The remarkable thing about Xbox is that you managed to really capture that whole hardcore space because of great development tools and Halo, almost despite your usual Microsoft-ness. Xbox has been your one big new success this decade.

You've also been managing to pull yourselves back from the brink with a string of good products (like Windows 7, Office 2007, etc) that are radiating a return to focus and an increased understanding of the value of good delivery. So I know that you can think this way even though you may prefer to think in terms of doing everything badly.

By pursuing projects like Kinect and avatars and so on, Xbox is giving up a lot of ground in the hardcore gaming space. The demands of casual users often contradict hardcore users and put them right off wanting to play some more. That means letting Sony back into the game.

Sony have basically been stuck in the unforgiving middle ground for a while because Nintendo took the casuals out to dinner while you wined and dined the hardcore gamers, leaving Sony with the soft mishmash of people in the middle who were loyal to the brand or fancied trying Blu-Ray. The result for Sony has been unforgiving to say the least, and their efforts to recapture the limelight (such as Home) have not really captured anyone's imagination. They too have a worthiness/sexiness problem.

If you continue to take your eye off the ball and let Xbox fragment into a little-bit-of-everything brand, you'll basically let Sony return to the hardcore heart with renewed affection. The right thing to do to is start talking about Xbox 3. It's even better online console networking focused on better games and better game delivery (and not on avatars etc). It's developing a gaming App Store rather than the overly managed approach of Xbox Live Arcade. It's encouraging young developers to make the next Castle Crashers, the next Halo, and the next Oblivion. Those areas are where your console lives and breathes flame. 

Conclusion 

So it's too late to kill Kinect, but do not be stunned if it turns out to be a firework product (bang and it's over) rather than a fire (sustained). What you need to be doing is concentrating on delivering the next generation and getting back to basics. Make the story that your audience wants to hear, and not the story that the Wii audience already heard, because no matter how hard you try Mommy is never going to buy your black-and-green shiny Incredible Hulk console. Get back to what Xbox is about and then push on that to take that story to the next level.

Best of luck to guys,

Twitter: @tadhgk 


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Comments


Jay Lee
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Start talking about Xbox 3 when they just came off the best first half of the year ever per NPD while setting the bar with over a $1 billion in annual online sale with Live. Give me a break already. There is a good 3-5 years left this gen. Anyone pushing otherwise is going to fall of a cliff. Third parties are nowhere near ready with the tough transition they came off with this gen. With 360 at likely around 50 million by year end with a huge paying online userbase there is simply no reason to jump into next-gen anytime soon.

Tadhg Kelly
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It's exactly the time to start making noises about new formats. The developers may hate it but the gaming media and fans don't. Waiting for the pre-existing format to earn out before living the story on is precisely how companies lose their grip generation-to-generation because it means they get upstaged. Happened to Sega, happened to Sony too. Apple of course lead the way here in not resting on laurels, but so too Nintendo with the 3DS, seizing control of the marketing story all over again.



Microsoft needs to own the hardcore gaming space, and history shows that you can only do that by being forward-looking and carrying the message. Sony lost the torch (partially) by being too slow and making PS3 a specs debate over a featured nobody cared about at the time (Blu Ray) and an architecture everyone was afraid of.



Microsoft are not likely to make the second mistake but they ate skirting dangerously close to making the first one and creating a confused identity in the process. Since I actually really rather like Xbox despite recent distractions, I'm not keen to see them go off the rails.

Will Anderson
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This is one of the most presumptuous pieces of "journalism" I've seen in a long time. First off, I'm tired of people reporting that the demos were laggy when all they saw was the display on the big center screen. There's always lag in video when you're outputting to secondary devices, and usually it's a lot worse when you're outputting to large projection devices which between the tons of video cable going from point A to point B and the projection equipment, the quality of video, as well as response time can be severely diminished. As a matter of fact, there have been plenty of articles regarding the demo kiosks showing hardly any lag at all. Before you make presumptions based off of what you dont' know, perhaps you should do some research or actually play with the product before condemning it.



Second, if you had done your research, you would know that two years ago, the Experian Group did a study on the average age demographics of each console and found that it's larget base to be in the Male 35-44 age category. So before you go talking about the soccer moms not wanting the 360 in the household, I think you should speak to their husbands (including me) first. Many of us older gents would actually not mind having games that the entire family can be involved in. It gives us the family time we crave, and some game time to play during human hours and not waiting for our kids to go to bed so we can throw in Gears of War at 11 at night.



Third, you have absolutely zero business sense. Both Sony and Microsoft are experiencing plateaus in sales where Nintendo has clearly strived in breaking through to a demographic that's absolutely rich in potential. As a business, it makes perfect sense to try to cater to this demographic and boost sales. It's called capitalism. Read about it.



Fourth, while yes, they make plenty of money catering to us who favor shooters over other genres, you can't have a product that's a one trick pony. They haven't lost the ball, they're expanding on how many they can juggle. Microsoft is one of those companies that has both the money and the resources to start up entire divisions on a whim if they smell potential in a new product line. They aren't stretching their existing infrastructure to get new product out. They in fact create additional infrastructure in order to support the new venture. If anything, Microsoft's entertainment arm has been a model to the rest of the company in doing this.



Research, then write. If you want to rant, post it on Twitter. Don't try to pass your tripe as journalism, or even as an editorial.

warren blyth
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* I keep reading two (anti)wii-centric sentiments across the gaming web,

which your rant brings up early:

1) "... will be played with for a little while, but then just be forgotten about. Just like the Wii."

and

2) "What it won't do is sell a lot of software over a sustained period."



Are these both common knowledge? Is there some report this is based on?

(I thought wii's were still widely used, and moved a lot of software.) Just curious if I can dismiss this viewpoint as baseless. or not.



* I do agree Kinect is skrewed, because it's shooting for a casual audience. They are ignoring the fact that casual audiences like cheap, and don't care about graphics. (i'm kinda stunned that both Kinect and Move are showing up so late and STILL FAIL to beat the wii at it's own game).

Jay Lee
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Sorry Kelly don't buy it. Sounds very suspect argument for all this. Almost wishing for MS to jump in early to see very litttle reward. They are closing in to close to $1 billion in net profits for the fiscal year in the division. That is like high end years of the Sony PS2 era like profits. MS has come nowhere close to this until now with a 40 million plus WW base. It has taken a good three years of fiscal profits just to work up to this point. No one on the HD side is going to jump in anytime soon so why should MS? Simple they shouldn't while every big third party out there is going to support the 360 while it continues to grow WW and sale even more SW. Bottom line they should continue to grow their base and do what they do best; sale a boat load of SW. What they can do however in the meantime is continue to improve Xbox Live and work harder with 3rd parties for more options as far as online goes while building their first party offering on the 360. Perhaps in the 3-4 years will they start talking about a next Xbox. They have a lot of growth ahead in both the HW space and especially online. No reason to cut these profits now.

Ian Fisch
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You know women have X chromosomes too right?

EM Green
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Point #2 looks like the result of Microsoft's aversion to hiring more actual game designers for the Natal team.

raigan burns
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@Ian: ZING!!! I totally overlooked that while reading too, good catch.

Tadhg Kelly
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Ian....



Damn you :)

Emperador Alencio
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I have an xbox 360 (and a PS3 too)....and i would not buy this, maybe in the future i will if there are good games. Maybe i will buy the Move if somebody make a good RPG game for it, i will like to use it as a sword and shield.

Michael Eilers
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I think this is an unsupported opinion piece at best, and worth about as much as you can get from hearsay about Kinect. However, I will say a few things as regards the other material (non-Kinect ranting).



"The reason the Wii has not lived up to its promise, for example, is that the controller is simply not accurate enough for real games, and so it offers little real prospect for mastery. Mastery is what defines a game's real lifespan among players of all stripes, and also a platform's. "



I think Nintendo would make the argument that the Wii, the best-selling console of this generation, has lived up to its promise. Regardless of that, anyone with experience using the Wii Motion Plus addition could take issue with your statement here, because Wii Sports Resort demonstrates extremely well that adding precision does not equal adding fun or playability in a linear fashion. Adding precision and accuracy to the Bowling game effectively wrecks it - now I have precision, but I don't have the weight of the ball, true stereo 3D perspective or the tactile feedback of the holes on my fingers to tell me how I am screwing up and what I need to correct. What used to be a fun game becomes a guessing game in millimeter-scale corrections in the position of my wrist. Similarly, adding precision to Golf also wrecks the game, as now it duplicates the reasons (crooked elbow, raising your chin, tight shoulder) that you suck in golf in real life, and then doesn't give you the weight of the club, the click of contact or the many other little cues you use to dial in your stroke on an actual course. It has long been a myth among the hardcore gamers that "all we need is some accuracy" to make motion-control "hardcore" enough, but I don't see any evidence to support that assertion. Instead, more accuracy and precision simply makes the uncanny valley that much deeper and more obvious. The lag of Kinect, regardless of whether it is nanoseconds or seconds, is irrelevant if game designers can't design fun games for it.

Samuel Batista
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Great piece Kelly, but like many other people judging the Kinect I think you're a bit short sighted. There is no doubt in my mind that Kinect will be a commercial failure, at least in the first year or so. But I haven't seen anyone that has looked at the potential of this device from a Game Development perspective. There will be plenty of exercise, dance, and dumb little avatar games, but make no mistake, some truly fantastic and innovative experiences will be created to take advantage of Kinect, and to say it's not possible because of the limitations of the technology would be a great disservice to our industry.



I believe Microsoft is taking a pretty big gamble here, they are putting out an early version of an untested device with the hopes that they will become pioneers in the field of human virtualization. And that later down the life-cycle of Kinect, they can use their knowledge to create incredible experiences that will change the way people interact with their Games and Virtual Media.



I commend them for taking a chance and trying something very different. And I can't wait to see what the development community will do with this device (beyond the obvious exercise games of course).

beach dude
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the real invention is in "milo and kate" isn't it? that piece is ground breaking.



go xbox kinect http://xboxkinect.us

Rick Kolesar
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"I am of course 8000 miles away from California and have never been anywhere near a room containing a Kinect, but my impressions from afar do not augur well."



I stopped reading this article after that. From a lot of the game journalists who have played Kinect at E3, they like it. Most LOVE Dance Central and are willing to buy it. I remember reading these same type of articles when the Wii was shown at E3. Everyone hating it until they tried it.

Nick Halme
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It's nice to see someone not say "It's not for you, let it be". I don't think the technology is the problem, it's the content going out for its first year. I guess they believe there's an untapped market they can access rather than selling content to Xbox owners. When I saw the gladiator game Sony's making for Move I said "Oh, I get it -- that looks like a fun way to swing a sword". The vibe I get with Kinect is, as a gamer, I'm not supposed to like it.

Tadhg Kelly
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(Sorry for not being more involved in comments yesterday. I was taking my lady out for her birthday, which is obviously more important)



I think it's important to say two things about my blog post above. The first is that I make no claims to be a journalist, official or otherwise. I'm just a guy writing a blog post, thinking through some thoughts in public, for discussion. The second is that the piece is clearly meant to be a little bit wise-ass. It's deliberately a little bit provocative.



That's it.



I think Microsoft are making some strange strategic decisions.



That speaks nothing at all as to the people executing the plan nor their diligence. Questions as to responsiveness etc must be taken in light of the performance of the competition, which is equivalent to what other motion control systems achieve. The point is that such systems in general are not particularly precise and so tend to flame out quickly as items of game playing interest.



My question is not aimed at the people doing the doing in short: It's for those operating at the executive level, questioning their reasoning and how exactly they have managed to rationalise themselves into making a product that is so diametrical to their existing audience. Casual party games on Xbox is as strange a fit as Metallica recording an electro-pop album.



There are many case studies which illustrate the perils of businesses that lose their brand focus, and how difficult it can be to recapture that. Sega lost theirs, Nintendo almost lost theirs and took a better part of a decade to reclaim it. Sony lost theirs. These things can and do happen.



I think Microsoft is running the risk of this big time by trying to market an Xbox 360 that satisfies all gaming tastes everywhere. They're aiming for ubiquity, just as with Windows and many of their other products, but entertainment and ubiquity rarely go hand in hand: You run the risk of creating a Homer Simpson car which flies and goes underwater, with the consequence of a great deal of execution on many fronts, most of which is not particularly well-conceived or doesn't sit that well together, or doesn't follow through.



The "everything box" (and Sony is just as guilty of this btw) is the no-one-thing-done-well box. It looks suspiciously half-way house, that there is no longer a strong direction driving the brand and knowing what it doesn't want to be as much as it does. And that is a very dangerous place for any business to be in.

Jay Simmons
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I lost interest in the wii 3 years ago when I saw old ladies bowling and "loving it". If I want to play a game my grandma enjoys I'll play bridge. Then every other game on the system was only fun if you were drunk with friends. Kinect looks pretty much the way the wii did. Shovel ware for 6 year olds and old ladies. Sony on the other hand looks like they are genuinely interested in making cool motion games. Kinect will be Microsoft's Virtual Boy.

Matthew Campbell
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It's funny how everyone puts so much weight on the controller, whether the WiiMote, or Kinect. Ultimately, the controller doesn't mean a thing if the games using it suck. I mean, geez, think of the old school games, hell pac-man was lots of fun, still is.. what was the controller... a single joystick!



In some ways, I wish folks would come up with crazy fun game ideas and then invent an input device to satisfy the needs of the game(s) instead of the other way around. Seems like the focus is on the input device and then after the fact, people try to come up with ideas on how to use the input device. For Kinect, I have to assume that there were way more man hours of research, testing, productizing, etc. put into the device versus the games launching with it.

Anthony Charles
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i don't know how you can say microsoft isn't pursuing "the sexy" with kinect. it's exactly the type of product that has the potential to get people that don't play video games (the majority of the population) excited. it has an incredible wow factor to the general population. nintendo's declining sales prove that its market is ready for something new, not that it has disappeared.

Ryan Schaefer
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An interesting piece and though I don't necessarily agree with everything, you do raise some valid points. Five or six years ago I probably would have agreed wholeheartedly. However I find myself enjoying the casual offerings more and more now. Don't get me wrong, I still love the "core" games like Halo, Mass Effect and others, but I also must admit that bowling on the Wii is pretty fun and 1 vs 100 on the 360 has been one of the best surprises of this generation for me. I also must admit that I do rather enjoy the avatars and unlocking new avatar gear through games.



I think Kinect looks like it will be a lot of fun and some games, such as Dance Central, wouldn't really be possible without it. However, I also think a lot of people are overlooking the point. Yes, there are a lot of casual games meant to appeal to a more mainstream market, but I think the real point of Kinect isn't the games, it's the media control. Using the voice commands and your hand to "drag" to scenes in a movie looks incredible. To me, this is one step closer to the holodeck. It's not just about games, but about how we will interact with media in the future.



I'm not buying Kinect because I want to play Kinectimals (though I kind of do), I'm buying it because of the interface and media control it offers, which to be fair, is much more advanced than the EyeToy. That's kind of like comparing a Prius to a Ferrari; sure they're both cars that can get you from point A to point B, but they aren't really the same.

Wylie Garvin
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I pretty much agree with everything in this post. I don't think Kinect is going to be the magic golden goose that Microsoft seems to be expecting. They're chasing Nintendo's tail and somewhat taking their eye off the ball. (Of course, so is Sony with their Move... and I wouldn't mind being proven wrong... either way, we will know in about 6 months, won't we?)



@Jay Lee and Bill Boggess: He's right, Microsoft should be focusing their efforts on a next next gen console right now. Even if there is a serious effort underway right now, it will take them 3+ years to deliver it. One thing that really helped them in this generation was simply that they were ready a year before Sony was. If they shift all their focus to Kinect, they might not have that advantage next time around. If Kinect really does give the current platform longer legs, then great! I doubt it will though.

Sean Maples
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I have to agree with the post too.



Kinect seems like one of those things you bring out with a bunch of people over and play for 30min then leave on a shelf for 6 months. I wont be buying one, but if Microsoft would like another $150 from me they can add support for their Sidewinder Laser Mouse and Keyboard for their Xbox 360 and I will gladly buy both.

Jay Lee
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Ah I see random blogger blogs.

Robert Green
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@Michael Eilers - you make a good point about how adding accuracy can actually detract from the game, by forcing you to be as precise as in real life, but I think a good piece of software would offer you the option of just how precise you wanted to make it. A more precise controller gives you that option, a less precise one doesn't.

So I agree with Tadhg's first point. If MS want to make Kinect a standard controller, it needs to be versatile and precise. Current gamepads are both, as are the mouse and keyboard. Neither are especially intuitive, but that's not the most important factor if something is going to last. The wii remote is more intuitive, but it's not as versatile or precise, which is why the majority of the best games available for the wii don't rely on motion control in any major sense*. We can talk about the success of the wii all day, but it doesn't change the fact that the controller itself hasn't improved gaming, at least by the standards of existing gamers.

The real advantage of Kinect though, as I see it, is that there's nothing stopping it working with existing controllers, or something like a PS Move. In this way it adds to the versatility instead of detracting from it. As such, I see MS's problems as the following:

1) There are 40 million Xbox360 owners who don't have a Kinect, and most of them are unlikely to be excited at the current lineup.

2) Creating a game that uses Kinect requires some extra processing and other considerations, which discourages making it an optional extra. I think the PS Move probably suffers less from this.

3) The kind of people these games are likely to appeal to aren't known for their willingness to spend $400 on a new console/controller setup, and in any case, many likely own a wii and are either satisfied with it or bored and hesitant towards gaming in general right now.



Luckily, by the time the next xbox comes out, all of these problems may be solved. MS are known for releasing products as 'testers', giving the market a product they know isn't perfect, but is usually pretty good, and will be fixed over time. That's why people often speak of not updating to the latest version of windows until it reaches SP1. If we look at Kinect in this way it makes sense. Get the brand out there, get it established and get developers thinking about how to use this technology. Then, with the arrival of their next console (which I'd have to assume they're working on in some form), release a 'Kinect HD' simultaneously. Then, if the games are appealing, and use some combination of Kinect and traditional controls, I can easily imagine it taking off.







*see http://www.metacritic.com/games/wii/scores/

Amir Sharar
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I don't agree with most of your points Tadhg, but I do see an element of truth to them and your perspectives should be weighed heavily by Microsoft.



I appreciate the layout of your article with the bolded points and found it easy to read.



Don't take my counter arguments as hostile or anything like that, just putting them up as food for thought:



"1. Kinect doesn't seem very precise"



I am inclined to agree with you, but do keep in mind that the experiences we'll see will likely mask the need for precision. It would definitely be nice, but as you pointed, the Wii did not have super precision (as the MotionPlus does), and it did very well regardless because we still saw accessible experiences.



Granted, the imprecision of Kinect is in regards to timing, which is a critical part of gaming. Because of this I can't entirely disagree with you. Developers may have a hard time "masking" timing problems, and it could be the biggest issue with the peripheral.



"2. Your Kinect catalogue is focused on worthy, not sexy"



I see your point and it is an interesting distinction. But I am a firm believer in "accessibility" being a big reason for the success of the Wii, and music games like Guitar Hero. Being able to control a game in a fashion that is familiar to all sorts of users is what made these things successful.



Yes, MS is throwing out a "checklist" lineup, but with the Kinect the experience is very different than with motion based controllers.



And I think while "worthy" and "sexy" are interesting ways to describe games, the most important term to describe games is "experiences".



Just Dance for the Wii sold extremely wall last Holiday season. If you have played the game, you would know that the game is rather imprecise, is extremely limited in the dance move set, and doesn't really need to engage the whole body while it is advertised to. Yet despite these issues it sold well because it was a fun accessible experience to all sorts of users. It had great music and the idea of dancing with friends to pre set dance moves appealed to a lot of people.



Though Kinect has a "clone" of the game, it seems to be a drastically different experience. I agree that precision timing may be an issue, but apart from that the ability to read your whole body alone makes it a completely different experience. It will also mean a larger library of dance moves.



My point being that despite the similarities, the end experience can be much different, and in some cases like the dance game, the experience with Kinect can be much better.



"3. Xbox is not the right audience to sell a Wii clone to"



I think this point is generally true. When a particular product is branded and garners a reputation for a particular feature, that reputation sticks. But there are exceptions, and clearly MS is trying to make the 360 one of those exceptions, and part of that is the "Kinect" branding, which can be it's own platform.



Secondly, when people (of all ages and backgrounds) bought games like Guitar Hero, they were open to buying it on the Xbox 360. I know people who own an Xbox and only play these sorts of games while ignoring the rest of the library. People can buy an Xbox for Kinect experiences and those sorts of experiences alone.



"4. Keeping your eyes on the ball"



Again, an element of truth to this. But my perception is that MS is seeking to expand its business here. To leverage the platform that is the 360 to more and more experiences. We have seen how the implementation of Netflix and the Video Marketplace has been executed without negatively affecting game output. We can see how the 360's Media Center capabilities have been implemented without affecting core games.



We have seen expansion in Live, in Xbox Live Arcade, and we've seen new services like Xbox Live Indie Games, all done without negatively affecting their core business. I agree that Kinect is a bigger fish that they are dealing with, but it seems that just as the PS3/360 and the Wii have been able to coexist as platforms (ie. traditional vs. motion controlled console sales are pretty much equal), developer and Sony/MS will have the same balanced approach to their libraries.

Paul Preece
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By giving Microsoft the 'option' of not adding motion capture, you seem to be suggesting that motion based input will not be a key part of gaming for the next gen. That, in all likely hood, isn't the case - all next gen consoles will include motion input in some form.



Existing motion capture controls have started out as 'casual'. This is not surprising, take a look at the controllers for the Atari 2600 and compare to the current gen's. Motion based input will no doubt become nuanced and complex at some point in the future.



To suggest that Microsoft shouldn't be investing in this technology because they are fast following and it's not 'hardcore' is wrong imo.


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