Microsoft's motion control device was one of the biggest stories of last year. It sold just about five million units before Christmas, matching the company's previous assertion, and making this casual revolution of the current generation even more revolutionary. It was only a matter of time before both Microsoft and Sony released their own motion control peripherals and both were received favourably. But that was the end of 2010 - since both are out on the market now and the wondrous aura has died down somewhat, how else can the companies spark more interest in their device?
Microsoft has claimed 2011 will be the "the year of Kinect". Right now it's hard to judge since I'm not a psychic, but the lineups for both Kinect and the 360 itself are not great. The Kinect has the return of Steel Battalion, codename: D (which we still don't know anything about), Child of Eden (the spiritual successor to eyegasm Rez) and Project Draco (a ripoff of the classic Panzer Dragoon series). Sure these games look good, and the hype will start building soon, but a year is a long time. Four games can't constitute "the year of" title. Reports came out yesterday for leaked photos for something called "Avatar Kinect" set to be unveiled a few hours after I post this blog post. Could it be even more interactivity between users of the device? Most likely. Moreover, Microsoft has also confirmed titles for *takes a breath* Activision, Bethesda, Capcom, Disney, EA, Konami (can you slash one mirrion troops?), MTV Games, Namco Bandai, Sega, Square Enix, THQ and Ubisoft. All in alphabetical order too! (Love you Wikipedia). With most of the major studios making games, it shows the industry is realizing the potential of this device - and five million units won't play themselves!
Outside of Microsoft's control is what other people have done with the device and its capabilities. University students in California set up WoW with the device, and it looks pretty cool. Microsoft has plans to release the device on PCs with an MMO called Divine Souls to be the first game using it. An MMO using motion control sounds appealing, but with the hectic nature of battles in these types of games, is it really feasible and necessary to do this? Other teams have set up Kinect to control Google Chrome, play fictional instruments by tapping keys on a desk, and even used multiple Kinects to function as a security system!
Like every device, however, Kinect has a few things working against it. For one, the price. I know multitudes of people that want the device, but can't afford the steep price. For others, its the price of the games (at $60 each). The biggest thing, though, has to be the quality of games. Out of the seventeen launch titles for Kinect, only four or five looked tolerable. The other games had a lot wrong with them - unresponsiveness, terrible and repetitive gameplay - I even heard one customer say "The Wii did it better." That has to sting, Microsoft. The reason I refuse to get one is not just the fact that it's motion control (because contrary to most hardcore gamers out there, I think this trend has some potential for great titles) but a report that came out saying it costs Microsoft about $50.00 to make it. And they are selling it at $149.99 I saw some Wiis this holiday season going for only $100! People purchasing the device forget that you need a console to make it work, and then a year of Live as well. It's a BIG commitment economically. And yet, after all these warnings, five million people still bought the device. This just amazes me.
The technology has a lot of potential, and therefore could earn the "year of" title. By this time next year, will Microsoft be on top of the casual world, or will Sony take over, or will the Wii surge again to win the console war? I don't know, but one thing is for certain: Kinect helped Microsoft win 2010, and they'll be tough to beat in 2011.