Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kinect Revisited

Microsoft is being coy about Kinect's lag issues; the lack of responsiveness in this interview was deafening. Concerns are still an issue, as this article on 1Up shows (Rare denies it's a problem, but then says in their Kinect Sports title it's 150 ms, which is nontrivial for action gamers); and showing the Kinect on Jimmy Fallon you can see where lag is still a big problem.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's online store has Kinect priced at $149, so I guess I shouldn't give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt about holding off on pricing. Looks like it's a done deal at the $149 price point. Which seems odd for a device clearly targeted at casual gamers, who can get a Wii for just a little more (if they don't already have one, that is). Hardcore gamers might drop $149 if the hardware made their games cooler, or there were interesting titles that were Kinect-only, but that doesn't look to be true at all, or even possible given the amount of lag. Perhaps you could enhance gameplay a bit with Kinect, but not if your buddy online kills you every time because he's using a controller.

Bottom line: The Kinect looks like a loser to me. It will sell some units, but the Wii was there years ahead and already captured the market, and still has a price advantage. The Kinect will not be for hardcore gamers, and unless it sells a lot of units quickly (which seems highly unlikely at $149), developers won't be rushing to support it... and it will never take off. Perhaps they can incorporate the technology into a next version of the 360 (if there is one), and at that point maybe advances in processor power can make the lag issue go away inexpensively. Until that happens, don't expect much from the Kinect.

Sony's Move? A little better, because at least it offers a $49 entry price (which quickly mounts when you look at all the other stuff you probably want to buy, though... and then each player will need one, too). Lag should not be an issue, so it's possible to see the Move being used for action games. Still, it all comes down to installed base. If Sony can get enough units out there fast enough, developers will support it. I predict mediocre success; more units than Kinect, and another reason to buy a PS3, but not a huge industry boost.

Meanwhile, Wii trundles forward... and if either Kinect or Move starts to look like a threat, Nintendo can drop the price to $149 and stab their grandiose dreams through the heart.

It's kind of sad when you think of all the marketing effort and dollars that went into these motion control devices. That was their best shot? Wasted effort... should have spent more pushing their games. If they really wanted an influx of players, they should have cut deals with social game companies or opened up their download markets even more. That would have been a... smooth Move? Added some Kinect energy to the game industry? I guess Wii'll never know...

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