Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Will the Market Kinect?

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If you're wondering how this holiday is shaping up for Microsoft's Kinect, it's kind of a mixed bag. The product was a hit on Oprah, and Microsoft is rumored to be spending a cool $500 million dollars marketing the sucker, which both have to be seen as positives. On the down side, we still have no hard-core game titles announced for it, and the nagging rumors that the Kinect chews up so much CPU that the Xbox 360 can't run a CPU-intensive title along with Kinect (i.e., titles popular among the hardcore, like Halo) make me wonder if the device will really do all that well at $150.

One answer is that Microsoft is hoping to move the Kinect beyond gaming, according to this article in the NY Times. Microsoft sees it as a gateway into the mass market for selling media in the family room. Plus they'd like to move the technology into other devices. I'm not sure if people are ready for their computers to recognize them when they walk into a room and offer to switch on the TV for them.

Some people think the Kinect will be the next Wii, but I'm rather skeptical. Since, you know, people already have a Wii... and you can get a complete Wii for not much more than a Kinect by itself. Market research company Ipsos says Kinect will be the big winner this holiday season, and they offer some surveys they've done as evidence. Consumers rate Kinect highly on believability and uniqueness compared to the Sony Move (note to Bill Robinson: Does that mean the Kinect is uniquer than the Move?), so Ipsos thinks the Kinect will be the winner this holiday season.

Early reports say Sony has, well, moved over 1 million Moves so far, which they say is good but some analysts feel is rather disappointing. The Move is actually better technically than the Kinect as far as hard-core games go, since it doesn't affect the CPU much at all. The Kinect is a much more marketing-friendly device: "Look, ma, no hands!" It's an easier sell when you say no controllers needed, and it uses voice commands, it recognizes you... it sounds very futuristic.

All that's enough to get some consumers to open their wallets, but when the shiny newness wears off is there enough functionality to keep selling that bad boy? I think Microsoft will have to keep releasing nifty new applications (not just games) if they want to avoid a loss of Kinectic energy.

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