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Tippl: 'The Lower Price, The Better' For Kinect, Move
Tippl: 'The Lower Price, The Better' For Kinect, Move
June 22, 2010 | By Kris Graft

June 22, 2010 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

The buzz at E3 last week surrounded new motion control solutions from Microsoft and Sony, but major third-party publisher Activision Blizzard isn't jumping headlong into the next-generation motion control market.

That's partly because of the relatively high price of Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation Move. Activision, whose cautious, low-risk approach to the game business has paid off in the form of $3 billion in cash and no debt, is taking a characteristically cautious approach to the new tech, according to company COO Thomas Tippl.

He told Gamasutra last week that he is "absolutely" concerned about high price points for the new devices. "I think as a publisher, you have to be concerned about how the price drives a lot of the outcome of how big of an install base there's going to be [for hardware]."

He added, "The bigger the install base, the more likely that you can make sense out of your investment. So, the lower the price, the better. In this economic environment, it's probably more important than ever."

Activision isn't shy about telling hardware manufacturers that their products are too expensive, and Tippl openly acknowledges this. In 2009, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said that Sony's PlayStation 3 was too expensive at the time, stating that the price inhibited the console's install base growth. "If we are being realistic, we might have to stop supporting Sony," Kotick had said.

Microsoft's online store lists the 3D motion- and voice-sensing Kinect at $150, with Xbox 360/Kinect bundles reportedly arriving later this year. The PlayStation Move controller will cost $50 in U.S. stores, while the separate navigation controller will cost $30. The Move system also requires the PlayStation Eye camera, which costs $40. Sony is also offering motion control bundle packages that will offer a better value.

Tippl added, "Move and Kinect, I think, will be interesting new opportunities to innovate certain franchises, but probably not for every kind of game. So, we'll have to see how much of an install base they're going to develop."

"A lot of that will depend on the price point they choose," Tippl said. "We have a few franchises where we think this could be an interesting value to improve the experience for the player. Tony Hawk is an example. We have our Rapala Fishing franchise. But it's not going to be something that will be in every game, because I don't think it's one size fits all. It's not going to enhance the experience for every game."

Gamasutra will run the full interview with Tippl on Wednesday.

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Mark Morrison
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What could be very interesting is the interaction between first/third parties sparring over market share of ancillary hardware and peripherals. Activision single handedly re-invented the price point of retail games with Guitar Hero peripherals. Since then, a flood gate has opened for many content providers and publishers alike to increase their margins. Does a playing field with first party motion controllers mean and end to 3rd party peripherals? Good food for thought in my mind.

Matt Ross
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That's funny, I could say the same thing about your games Mr Tippl

kspray dad
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Says the company that made DJ Hero and Tony Hawk Ride.

Mark Harris
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Says the company with $3 billion in cash and no debt. Are we questioning Activision's ability to make money? People routinely buy their games in the millions at the $60 price point, so they have no incentive to lower that at all.

Regardless of how you feel about Activision they make plenty of money, so when they wax financial we should probably give them the benefit of the doubt.

DJ Hero and Ride aren't quite the same. Those games came with peripherals but worked with the existing install base of consoles. The install base was known when they made the investment in those games, and they accepted the risk involved. With the new motion controllers they have no numbers to use to attempt an accurate forecast of ROI for related development costs. So instead of just throwing a few million dollars at brand new tech they're being a little more cautious.

Do we really need to beat on them for running a profitable business?