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TGS: Kinect To Sell 3 Million, Extend Generation, Says MS' Greenberg
TGS: Kinect To Sell 3 Million, Extend Generation, Says MS' Greenberg
September 16, 2010 | By Christian Nutt

September 16, 2010 | By Christian Nutt
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Microsoft Xbox product director Aaron Greenberg is bullish on the company's TGS lineup, the Japanese development industry, and the show itself this year, he told Gamasutra in an interview conducted at the show.

The Japanese Scene

Says Greenberg, "It's been fun for me because I've done a lot of TGSes... And as a Western company, we come to Tokyo with a different perspective than maybe Sony or Nintendo does. So it was nice to have a keynote featuring all Japanese creators and Japanese content."

Referring to creators like Capcom's Keiji Inafune and Grasshopper Manufacture's Goichi Suda, "Talk about some of the legendary people we had on stage!"

"It presents an opportunity for us to not only spark new levels of creativity for Japanese creators with things like Kinect but also give them a vehicle to tell these stories to gamers around the world."

Though Western games don't sell well in Japan, "Japanese games really are universal in appeal," says Greenberg.

Why are these Japanese creators so attracted to the Xbox 360? "I think we've become the default platform for gamers. And what you see in Japan is that there are a lot of creators who like to make core games, and that's their heritage."

And he also feels that their new hardware launch this fall is enticing. "They want to build new experiences with Kinect," says Greenberg. For example, Project Draco, from developer Grounding -- featuring key staff members from Sega's Team Andromeda, creators of the cult Panzer Dragoon series. "You talk about Panzer Dragoon, but you talk to [director Yukio] Futatsugi-san, and it's like, 'Would you rather ride the dragon?'"

Capcom's Steel Battalion sequel drops the expensive custom controller which made the original, for Xbox 1, a $200 super-hardcore expenditure. "It's a shame that more people didn't get to play it. But with Kinect, once you have the sensor, there's nothing else to buy," says Greenberg.

In fact, Greenberg is very bullish on Kinect, predicting three million sales this holiday season, globally.

"Our key indicators are feedback from retailers -- I think you'd be surprised at how sophisticated they are, and they really have the pulse of the market. They're looking at preorders, they're talking to customers.

"We're also done our own research. We believe this will be the biggest launch in our history, for Xbox. We will sell more Kinect sensors than we did [systems] at Xbox 360 launch."

"Our estimates that we will sell in excess of 3 million units this holiday," The company is spending "hundreds of millions" of dollars in marketing, "exceeding in what we did when we launched the original Xbox 360," says Greenberg.

With 15 titles at launch, Greenberg is confident consumers will respond. "The launch lineup, I think when they personally experience these titles, first-hand, I think people will be impressed with level of depth, the amount of skill required, and how immersive they are, not just for new users, but for existing owners."

And as for today's announcements, "That second wave of titles coming in 2011 from Japanese creators paints a pretty bright future."

However, Kinect won't change the landscape as much as some have assumed, he says. "As a platform all-up, I think you'll continue to see the majority of titles controller-based. The core of our business is blockbuster games, and that will not change. We see this as additive."

The Xbox 360's Current Success

Recently, the system has topped the NPD charts in the U.S. and this morning the company announced that it is tracking internally as the number one platform in Europe.

Says Greenberg, "Analysts are telling us that we've broken all their models... They say there's never been a mid-generation leadership change like this. Once you set course on a trajectory for market share and you're out in front from an install base perspective, you usually don't change."

Software was already strong, as the company has continually trumpeted, but now hardware is catching up to it.

But number one in Europe, too? Says Greenberg, "In Europe, we get a number of independent sell-through data, and we get the data across the main markets, and we are right now outselling the Wii and the PS3, which is exciting as that market has traditionally been more competitive for us."

A Longer Generation

The generation, at this rate, seems to be tracking longer. Of course Sony has always talked about a 10-year cycle, but so does Greenberg. "We do think that this generation is unique. We're treating the launch of Kinect as an entirely new platform launch, as almost a new generation. For us that does extend the product life cycle."

At this point in the Xbox 360's lifespan, he says, "we're five years in. We think we have another good five years-plus, but that remains to be seen -- but easily there's another five years' life."

Why does he think the system will persist that long? "What usually happens is in the later years of the life cycle, you usually get less innovative, lower quality experiences, or you get more flooding of the market.

Meanwhile, "I think what [Kinect] enables us to do is to keep things fresh, enable developers to bring new IP to the market, and enables people to have new experience."

And extending the lifecycle is "good," he says. "It's also, I think, that you're seeing Japanese developers have a lot of success outside of Japan, and we've talked about their growth on our platform..."

"As we look at our business globally, they play a key role. As [Microsoft Game Studios corporate VP] Phil Spencer said, he's here [in Japan] increasing his investment in Japanese game developers because they are some of the best in the world."

"[At TGS], there's a more collective feeling about what's good for the industry and more of a focus on creativity and innovation than flexing our muscles [like at E3]. It's a more humble place, and we take that tone... How do we grow our market, how do we support creators around the world?"


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Comments


Jonathan Jennings
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3 million? no , I would argue 1 million and that's being enthusiastic. while the kinect is definitely cool and I am sure it will receive quite a bit of casual support, unless a niche " movement-enthusiast" audience has been created, most people will just stick to their wii for the motion control goodness.

Mark Harris
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Maybe not 3 million this holiday season, but if they can get some high quality giant robot games and the like out for Kinect they most certainly will sell many millions of camera thingamajigs.

Joe McNeely
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How is 3MM sales supposed to be successful? I doubt it will sell more than 1MM in the first quarter of release. but having only 3MM units, assuming there projections are in line will do very little to drive developers to want to develop games for the peripheral.

DanielThomas MacInnes
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"The generation, at this rate, seems to be tracking longer. Of course Sony has always talked about a 10-year cycle, but so does Greenberg. 'We do think that this generation is unique. We're treating the launch of Kinect as an entirely new platform launch, as almost a new generation. For us that does extend the product life cycle.'



"At this point in the Xbox 360's lifespan, he says, 'we're five years in. We think we have another good five years-plus, but that remains to be seen -- but easily there's another five years' life.' "



I really don't think this part has sunk in quite yet. From reading gaming sites and NeoGAF, I get the impression that everyone is expecting the 8th Gen consoles by next year, or certainly the official announcements. But a PS4, Xbox3 and Wii2 is not coming anytime soon. Wasn't there a report by Piper Jaffrey a few weeks ago that covered this very topic?



Consoles usually decline in sales over their lifespan, but this is mitigated by the arrival of a new machine at Year Five. This time, however, there are no new machines; only new motion-control peripherals like Kinect and Move, which are now expected to perform at the level of the main systems for the next several years. How realistic is that? What happens if these machines fail to reach their sales targets? What happens if the software decline continues indefinitely?



This is like a poker match where all the players have bet themselves out of the game.

Marco Devarez
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If i have to stick with poker then is more or less like they bet heavy upfront and are just conservative in order to simply stay seated at the table, catch a break, win a large pot.

Merc Hoffner
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I think you're right for MS and Sony, but Nintendo is perfectly poised to pull the rug out (again), and the whole world has ignored this possibility (again). The Wii is of course super successful, and Nintendo could sell it at a decent level for several years to come, but I think it would be foolish to assume that Nintendo hadn't planned for a more limited lifetime on the Wii. That being the case I think it's definitely on the cards for there to be a successor around year end 2012, and given the super rapid announce-to-release timeframe of the 3DS, even the end of 2011. The question then simply becomes how Nintendo makes it compelling enough to compete with entrenched competitors while maintaining decent business model, but it will have the momentum of launch, incumbency and newness on its side.

Alan Rimkeit
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3 million? With what games? That is what I want to know. All I see so far is this crap.



http://www.xbox.com/en-US/kinect/games.htm

Mark Harris
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Check out the TGS line-up for 2011, some potentially interesting stuff there.

Alan Rimkeit
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Ok ok, now THIS is more like what is going to get people buying the Kinect! Steel Battalion for Kinect?! That ROCKS!! O.O



"Five Exclusive Titles for Kinect for Xbox 360: Looking for adventure and a rush of adrenaline? Microsoft introduced five immersive, exclusive Kinect for Xbox 360 games available in 2011:



“codename D” (Grasshopper Manufacture, Microsoft Game Studios). From the famed makers of “killer7” and the “NO MORE HEROES” series comes “codename D” from SUDA 51 for Microsoft Game Studios. You must fight for your life to survive an evil amusement park filled with twisted and eerie creatures. With “codename D” for Kinect for Xbox 360, you are the controller as you unleash devastating effects to destroy enemies and objects.

“Project Draco” (Grounding, Microsoft Game Studios). The director of the cult hits “Phantom Dust” and “Panzer Dragoon,” game director Yukio Futatsugi, brings you an epic 3-D flying shooter. With the magic of Kinect for Xbox 360, you will be able to nurture and learn to communicate with your dragon as you develop its skills and train it as a partner in combat. Then join friends* on Xbox LIVE to feel the rush of flight as you take to the skies together and experience breathtaking vistas and engage in thrilling battles.

“Haunt” (NanaOn-Sha, Microsoft Game Studios). Gather friends and family to delve deep into a haunted house dripping with mystery — you’ll need every ounce of your wit and cunning if you hope to unravel the veil of rumors that hide its darkest secret. Dodge traps and outwit ghosts, ghouls and frights that lurk with glee around each and every corner. Take a deep breath and immerse yourself in “Haunt,” spooky fun for Kinect for Xbox 360.

“Steel Battalion Heavy Armor” (Capcom, From Software). This all-new game revives the fan-favorite “Steel Battalion” series. With the support of Microsoft, Capcom and From Software join forces to bring this groundbreaking collaborative project to Xbox 360. Manhattan, 2082: In a world where computers and almost all modern technology have been lost, the greatest nations of the world continue to battle for supremacy. The American army lands in New York to begin its first big offensive of a long ground war. Soldiers fire from the trenches as scorched bunkers belch black smoke. As comrades continually fall to the unrelenting crossfire of bullets, the Vertical Tanks make their relentless advance. Experience the battlefield as never before with Kinect for Xbox 360.

“Rise of Nightmares” (SEGA). “Rise of Nightmares” offers a spine-tingling horror experience that uses the innovative new controls of Kinect for Xbox 360 to give players the ultimate fright. Using their whole body, players will experience fear and tension as never before in this exclusive Kinect for Xbox 360 horror adventure."

Bryson Whiteman
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I haven't seen a lineup so exciting since the Dreamcast days. I hope these games turn out to be spectacular!

Alan Rimkeit
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That "codename D" game also piques my interest as it is from SUDA 51 who made killer7 and No More Heroes. The premise sounds very interesting to say the least and the gameplay will be very original too I imagine. These types of games are certainly not the type of crap shovelware they were showing around before. :D

Amir Sharar
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It really depends on how you are looking at it. I am inclined to agree in the sense that I can't see traditional gamers (ie. "hardcore") rush to Kinect but at the same time it can be a massive hit among the expanded market (ie. "casual").



From that very link I can see that Dance Central, Zumba Fitness, and Your Shape Fitness Evolved are going to be well received (of course, actual game quality will have an impact on how well received) by the expanded market.



When it comes to that checklist of "successful Wii titles we should emulate/ripoff" it looks like MS and 3rd party publishers made some good choices, especially when you factor that the Kinect's unique capabilities can be leveraged to make them great experiences.



Months ago I had a friend's friend ask me if Zumba was out yet for the 360. I never heard of the title nor did I know it was a Kinect title until I did some research. But the fact that she heard about it being on the 360 means that there is some hype in some circles, even if it isn't the typical gaming circles. Whether it's a fitness magazine or even Zumba's own advertising, the word is out.



Personally I think the sales numbers will all depend on how well their marketing campaign goes, and whether or not it is aggressive enough. To sell 3 million a lot of people will need to know about it. I don't think the grassroots sort of advertising Nintendo got with the Wii will work on the Kinect as it's not so much a multiplayer device as Wii Sports emphasized.

Jonathan Jennings
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are you a sony fanboy Alan ? on hte other news posting you supported the move titles with a lot of enthusiasm , yet here you completely write off the kinect.

Alan Rimkeit
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No, I just did not see any games worth a crap for Kinect, but here they are as above that I posted. I actually think the 360 is a strong system with a great catalog of games and a very robust on-line system.



But Steel Battalion for Kinect? That totally kicks ass. I would play that. I could see playing that with no controls and a full body control scheme being full of WIN. Add some on-line co-op or on-line vs modes and they have themselves a huge potential killer app! Give me huge Mechs and massive battles any day of the week and twice on Sunday! :D



And as we all know with any given system it is all about the games. Kinect before TGS had NO games worth a rats behind. Now it has games that I want to play. Too bad I am to broke as a joke to buy a 360.... :(

Jonathan Gilmore
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Because the 360 is getting so cheap to manufacture it could have a run similar to the PS2, where in a year or 2 there are models priced at $100, so even if the next XBOX comes out in two years, they will continue to support the 360, giving it a ten year lifespan.

Glenn Sturgeon
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Well it seems they have a fair amount of titles in developement, but i'll only get excited when i see something that works.

Steel Battalion was only a moderate success on the ps2 (due to the cost) & how could it realy work without buttons?

The ideal is good but they've got to get people to spend alot of money to play these games.



I expect kinect to sell 250K to 500K this holiday season. A Million is dreaming.imo

Saying Millions is prue propaganda.



I'll keep saying Kinect has awsome possibilities but they have so much to prove.

The wii minigame type stuff (with jumping added) so far isnt the proof they need to supply.



As far as a 10 year console generation, i'd like to see it.

Theres realy no point in new hardware from MS or Sony.

I'd rather see developers have more time to learn to streamline developement so every title dosent cost then a fortune to do.

Alan Rimkeit
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How could Steel Battalion work with out buttons? Minority Report interface much? That would be pretty cool. It is a Mech game so it is all based on pedals for moving forward and backward right? Just have a virtual button for moving forward and backward like a virtual pedal. It would work in a pinch. It could work like a virtual button console like in the movie Minority Report. The game devs could actually get rid of that huge unwieldy controller that they had to deal with before if they did it right.

Jonathan Gilmore
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Worldwide, for the holiday season altogether a million is pretty conservative. Total 360s sold is going to be well over a million, I'm sure about half are going to be Kinect bundles. Beyond that, do you really think that of the enire 360 userbase, about 40 million consoles sold, oer 20 million live users, that they won't make up half a million standalone sales?



But then again, maybe you are several orders of magnitude smarter than all of the analysts who have weighed in and said three million, even though you don't have half the information they do. Maybe so.

Jonathan Jennings
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you're kind of giving analysts a little to much credit Jon, according to gamestop analysts alan wake was supposed to surpass red dead redemption in sales, you would assume one of the biggest game providers would have enough insight into the industry and the audience to make near perfect analyzations .......that clearly wasn't the case.


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