Kinect is a Brand New Console – You Better Believe It
When Microsoft first announced Kinect as Project Natal then one of the phrases that they threw around was that they were treating it like the launch of a new console. At the time I thought they were just being silly, as if releasing a peripheral is anything like a new console launch -ridiculous! Since that statement Microsoft have confirmed their exact stance on Kinect at E3 2010 along with the pricing structure for the device. Now that we know that Kinect is $150 and is only compatible with Kinect games then any potential customers should take Microsofts words seriously because you might as well be buying a completely separate console.
Compare this to the Wii which uses the Wiimote in every game or the Playstation Move which is an option for pre-existing (and upcoming) games. Anyone who buys a Wii has everything they need for playing Wii games, anyone who buys Move very likely already own one of the many titles that will be enabled with Move such as Heavy Rain, Resident Evil 5, or upcoming blockbuster titles like Killzone 3.
In stark contrast to the Wii and PS3, Kinect only has games for Kinect and although it is being incorporated into games like Forza it is limited to being used as a gimmick to walk around virtual cars rather than as a fully integrated alternative control scheme. This leaves 360 owners with a choice – do I buy a game for my Kinect console or do I buy a game for my Xbox 360? This choice is made easier by the fact that Kinects games are aimed at the extremely casual gamer as compared to the standard 360 library but this does not bode well for Kinect since the 360’s fanbase is notorious for its love of hardcore shooter titles.
The Mega-CD, another peripheral that forced you to treat it as a console. Diagnosis ? FAIL.
My own personal opinion is that Kinect is going to fail, I just cannot visualize the average 360 fan forking out $150 dollars for Kinect (followed by $40-$50 for each Kinect game) instead of buying 3 “regular” 360 titles. The whole scenario reminds me very much of when Sega launched the Mega-CD, with some people blinded by what seemed like a technological leap while the sensible cynics watched from afar thinking “where’s the game in this?”. Back when the Mega-CD launched people were forced to make a choice between the shallow gimmick or a decent game , people spoke with their wallets and the rest is history, but now it seems like Microsoft wants to force that same choice on us again.