Why Kinect 2.0 Has to Succeed
The mandatory presence of Kinect on the next Xbox is an issue that I’m pretty torn on personally. I mean, on the one hand I can definitely see how having a Kinect bundled with every console will guarantee Kinect support for all (or a large majority) of games developed for the Xbox – but on the other hand, I’m yet to see anyone do anything really good using Kinect (except for maybe Child of Eden).
And it gets worse.
Not only are people (namely me but I think it’s a fairly common opinion) of two-minds about the Kinect and its guaranteed presence on their next-gen console – but the price difference between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 ensures that if you are choosing to buy an Xbox then you are paying out of pocket for your Kinect access, and this is to the tune of somewhere exceeding $100 (around 15-20% of the entire console).
Now don’t get me wrong, if I had to hazard a guess I’d say that I’m fairly firmly in the Xbox One camp for next generation systems. Maybe it’s my long running love affair with their technology in the past, maybe it’s because Sony has a bad habit of designing frustrating interfaces and updating schedules – I couldn’t say. But at the moment it’s looking like an Xbox for me, in fact I’d be about 90% sure if it wasn’t for one massive hang up. Which brings us back to the Kinect.
Let’s look at the facts.
First and foremost, the promises that Microsoft has made about the Kinect are impressive. They have guaranteed flawless two person tracking for games, the ability to sense hand positions and heartbeats as well as a night vision camera which rivals that used by the army in counter-intelligence operations (ok maybe they didn’t promise us military quality night vision, but judging from their press releases in the past they are probably about one step away).
On top of this is the superb audio control options that Kinect brings to the table, allowing you to turn on, change apps and even pause/rewind/fastforward using just your voice. That shit is pretty handy, assuming you are the kind of person who is too lazy to walk across the living room and turn on your console your damn self – which admittedly most of us probably are. Xbox on!
So with that in mind, if the Kinect works as promised things are pretty golden right? Right.
The problem is, what happens if it turns out like last time? Where it does about half of what they promise and mainly spends most of its time asking you to stand further back or tracking my arm as coming out of my chest or confusing two people in the room into one horrifying abomination which haunts me to this very day?
Well then, to put it frankly, Xbox One is pretty screwed. The average gaming consumer is a pretty informed guy (assuming we aren’t talking about Gameboys, where the average consumer is a parent whose 7 year old has a particularly penetrating voice). They catch on to things like peripheral hardware being a complete waste of cash pretty quickly – and with exclusives and 3rd party titles being split pretty evenly between both consoles, this would result in a marked shift in support of Sony pretty damn fast.
So basically, to any Microsoft employees reading along to this flyspeck article on a games site somewhere, you better hope that Kinect works pretty damn well.
Because if it is screwed then so are you.