Kinect Needs More Than Waggle

With the announcement of Microsoft’s Kinect system at E3 this year, many players, including myself were concerned not just with the performance of the system, but how it would be implemented into new and existing Xbox titles. 16 games are slated to hit store shelves alongside the Kinect system on November 4, but many are wondering if Kinect will be compatible with their existing library.

Sadly, while developers at Microsoft are aware of these concerns, they currently have no plans to make any of the existing Xbox titles compatible with Kinect. While this does limit the overall usage of Kinect upon its release, it will allow developers to focus on creating titles that are specifically designed to make full use of Kinect, instead of tacking motion controls onto games that don’t need to be changed in the first place. I’m glad to know that Microsoft recognizes the fact that their popular franchises (I.E. Halo, Call of Duty) are better off without motion controls, at least for the time being.

In an interview with Gamasutra, Director of Platform Marketing for Xbox, Albert Penello, explained Microsoft’s stance on Kinect versus classic controllers, “We continue to say that the controller is the best experience for controller games. When people say, ‘Why don’t you have Halo?’ Well, I don’t want Halo on Kinect. I want Halo on a controller.’”

Microsoft does recognize that it is going up against two competitors who have already established and proven themselves in the realm of motion controls. However, Microsoft is convinced that the originality of their Kinect-exclusive titles will level the playing field in a quality versus quantity sense. “To me its way more important to have a handful of really good game titles that take advantage of the tech than 40 titles of which half of them are controller games with waggle added onto them,” said Penello.

While developers are intent on making Kinect titles as original as possible, the 16-game strong starting lineup on the Kinect includes four sports, four dancing and three fitness titles. However, we have been promised a little more variety in the months following the release in the shape of Fable 3, a Kinect-exclusive Forza, and a yet to be named Star Wars title. The fairly modest launch titles can also be linked to skepticism not just from the public, but from third party developers as well, hence the abundance of Microsoft-based titles on launch.

There has been no official word on the set price for Kinect, but retailers such as Gamestop and Amazon have set their prices at around the $150 mark. But this price point might be a little too high, as it has many third party developers concerned over the public’s reception of Kinect. In an interview with Gamasutra, Activision COO Thomas Tipp said regarding the price of Kinect upon launch, “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], so, the lower the price, the better. In this economic environment, it’s probably more important than ever.” It’s important to note that it was the price upon launch that also kept Activision from supporting the PS3. But, that’s not to say their marketing perspective couldn’t change in the future.

There is a great deal of pressure on Microsoft right now to deliver on Kinect, and I can’t wait to see if it lives up to the hype come November 4.

How do you think Kinect will fare?