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  • Kinect, Great Start. Will it Continue?

    Posted on November 17th, 2010 Shawn 3 comments

    Microsoft’s motion control sensor which connects to Xbox 360’s has sold over 1 million units in its first 10 days. I’ll admit, that’s a great start. I’m still skeptical of the overall success though. Here are some of my thoughts.

    • Distance Requirements – Kinect requires a 6-10 foot distance for you to stand from the sensor, in order for it to pick up your entire body and movement. For two players, it requires more space. I can’t imagine the average living room will have this amount of available space, without relocating things like coffee tables and couches. Do you have a 20″ x 20″ 20′ x 20′ (or larger) room where you game?
    • After the Launch excitement Fades – Once the reviewers stories and fanboys excitement calms down, what will the average consumer think about this peripheral? Sure, it looks fun, but so does the Wii. Sure, you can control beautiful games with your body, but so does the Wii (sort of). Yes, the Wii sold many millions of units, but will another similar device grab that audience again.
    • Return Rate – When people try Kinect, what will people do when/if they realize it doesn’t work in their small house? Will they shelve it (like many Wii users did), or will they return it and spend their $150 on something else?
    • Price – At $150 – $200, this add-on peripheral is not cheap. Makes sense, there’s some very impressive technology inside. Plus, it does include the game Kinect Adventures (a typical game of mini games). Kinect is not an impulse buy for the average consumer, due to it’s price and requirement of an Xbox 360. Will it sell to the masses at this price?

    I do see some great potential uses of Kinect, outside of the obvious (Wii like) mini games and exercise games.

    • Achievements – This is for the Xbox hard core gamer. So, not something the casual player will really care about. But, it could draw me (an Xbox and Wii owner) away from the Wii games and over to similar Kinect games.
    • Audio Controls – The ability to control movies, music, and other system navigation via voice commands is quite appealing. I’ve learned that Netflix is not yet supported, though expect that to be remedied with a software update.
    • Video / Audio Chat – Like having the old Xbox Live Camera, Kinect can allow video over Xbox Live and (I believe) via PC too. Plus, it can be used as an ambient microphone for party voice chats. Again, this is appealing for a rhythm game player, who is restricted by wires coming out of drums/guitars.

    By the way, all versions of Kinect are currently sold out at Amazon!

  • Kinect, The Great Fail of 2010

    Posted on September 7th, 2010 Shawn 4 comments

    This post will likely seal my fate of ever working for Microsoft or Harmonix. With that, here’s goes my prediction of Kinect, the great fail of 2010. Though, there will be hope of its redemption in 2011.

    Microsoft’s next gaming evolution for Xbox 360 is Kinect. As we all know, that’s the camera-based controller that puts you in the game. Kinect will be available for purchase this Fall for $150 stand-alone or $300 packaged with a new Xbox 360S (4BG hard drive & Kinect Adventures game).

    Journalists and gamers have now had a few rare opportunities to try out Kinect; at E3, GamesCon, PAX Prime, select Macy’s and Gamestop locations. The people touting that its a really good peripheral for Xbox 360 are either Xbox loyalists or those who have played Dance Central (that’s Harmonix’ new dancing game). Dance Central is an evolution of Dance Dance Revolution, where gameplay is generally fun and precision isn’t always necessary to have the game score properly. Remember that you aren’t dodging, ducking, shooting or jumping from bad guys in it. It’s the kind of game that works and works well with Kinect.

    If you listen to people who have played other games, such as DecaSports Paintball, the calibration has to be set several times, the gameplay is generally not fun, and precision is inaccurate. Here lies a big problem. Gamers are going to expect some action/adventure in their games, and if the precision isn’t there (like in the original Wii controllers), gamers are not going to play games much with it. Don’t take my word for it, listen to Alexander Sliwinski and Dave Hinkle of the Xbox 360 Joystiq Fancast.

    As recent as last week (PAX Prime), Kinect developers were telling gamers that the Kinect software they were using at PAX was not the final version. I think that’s crazy to know the final build is not yet on the Kinect just a couple weeks away from launch. In one respect, it scares me that there are still glitches being ironed out. On the other hand, it gives hope that calibration and precision may be fixed by software patches.

    Other than Dance Central, there is the use of Kinect for navigating menus on the Xbox Dashboard, Netflix, and other similar applications. This is another area where Kinect works well, and can be a great add-on for Xbox users. Though, a great (and I mean great) dance game and dashboard navigator is not going to get anyone (other than loyalists) to pay $150 for Kinect, plus $50 for Dance Central. Would you pay $200 to add a really cool dance game to your Xbox library?

    Kinect will not sell well for the 2010 holiday season. You might hear some big buzz as it launches, but when the dust settles, it will be a flop. I expect for every 3 out of 4 Kinect purchases, Dance Central will also be purchased. As for all the other Kinect games, they will sell as well as 3rd party Wii games (aka not sell).

    There is a potential saving grace for Kinect though. Remember, the navigation system is very good and there is one solid game available at launch. The saving grace is Microsoft reducing the price of Kinect by 2/3, yes to $50. Fortunately, Microsoft is already selling Kinect games for the same price as Wii games, which makes the games a compelling price point. Would you consider a $50 peripheral to allow you hands-free dashboard navigation, with some limited gaming capability? I might. What about trying out some sub-par hands-free games for a price lower than the typical Xbox 360 game retail price. I might go for that also. To get Kinect and Dance Central for $100, I could see that as compelling. Though, until the Kinect pricing drops by 2/3, this new evolution for Xbox will flounder and ultimately fail.

  • E3: Harmonix Reveals Dance Central, Gaming Becomes Too Expensive

    Posted on June 14th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Towards the end of the new Xbox 360 Kinect unveiling today at E3, the MTV Games logo popped up on the big screen, and a purple bubbly HARMONIX logo followed. No, it was not for Rock Band 3, but instead the first new game out of Harmonix in several years, Dance Central.

    It’s very easy to describe the game. It is Dance Dance Revolution without a dance pad. But wait, there’s more. Since it uses the camera of Kinect to identify your dance moves, it also challenges you with full body dancing. No longer are we limited to the positions of our feet. Arms, hips, head, you name it, is all involved in this.

    SOURCE: www.1up.comThe game concept is not revolutionary. Once again, Konami is missing the boat on its own invention and Harmonix is jumping all over it.

    Now, like many others, I’m a Harmonix fanboy. I’m also a DDR closet addict. This game may initially look like a must have for me right? Wrong.

    It simply comes down to money. Gaming has become a very expensive hobby. For 99% of us gamers (unpaid bloggers too), it’s just that, a hobby.

    Rock Band 3 Pro GuitarKinect will be available this November for $150, and I’d expect Dance Central to be the standard $60. $210 to get this new experience is unbelievably steep. Fortunately, I have a decent paying job, and could likely squeeze the cash to get this.

    Now, let’s look at the biggest crux for me. Rock Band 3 is slated to be released one week earlier. This is a guaranteed pre-order for me. There is going to be a bundle which includes the game and new keys peripheral for $130. There will also be an Xbox 360 MIDI box for pro drummers to directly connect for $40. I will no doubt be pre-ordering all of those for $170.

    Are you starting to see the problem? To add to the Rock Band costs, there will be two new guitar controllers. One for $150 and the other is TBA (but I will make a bold prediction and say it will be $300). The good of that is, I’m not much of a Rock Band guitarist. The bad of it is, I do play the real 6 string guitar on occasion. This makes these new guitar controllers (likely the $300 model) very appealing to me.

    After I have dumped $470 into Rock Band 3 gear (and wife wife throws me out of the house), I’m not going to be able to consider Kinect or Dance Central for a long time. It’s all about cost-benefit analysis for my financial friends (That’s you @RockBandAide).

    To keep this tirade going, as a former real world DJ (back in my yout’) and a lover of hip-hop, I have yet to pick up DJ Hero. Primarily, because I have been holding out hope that Harmonix would make support for turntables in the Rock Band games. I’d still like to pick up DJ Hero and now DJ Hero 2 has been announced coming….of course, this Fall.

    So, please tell all my family and friends that I need some Amazon gift cards before October. I will return the favor by moving in with you when I get thrown out of my house.

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