5 Reasons the Kinect Will Fail

jmaltz@pnosker.com August 22, 2010 0

Last week we brought you five reasons why the Kinect would be a success come November.  Now, we're back with the promised second half of the feature: 5 reasons why the Kinect will be ecclipsed by the Move and Wii when it is released later this year.

 


1. Limit of two players at a time
Motion gaming is an inherently communal experience, with everyone trying their hand at whacking moles or swinging a golf club.  This being the case, the more people that can get involved in the game at once, the better.  This is a problem for the Kinect, which, for all of its technology, can only support two people playing at one time.  Although this limitation may not seem like that big of a deal, capping the number of gamers who can play at once at two is pretty restrictive when it comes the type of party/casual gaming that Microsoft is aiming for with the Kinect.  Both the Move and the Wii are able to support up to four players at once, a fact which will put the Kinect at a major disadvantage amongst casual gamers who are buying a motion-controlled platform for the social experience that they offer.

2. Current Xbox 360 gamers have had years to get into the casual market by buying a Wii

As was mentioned in the previous article, the Xbox 360 is a console which has a library designed around “hardcore” gamers.  These are people who are willing to spend $60 a year on Xbox LIVE and drop substantial amounts of money on the latest and greatest videogames.  If one of these gamers also wanted to tap into the casual market, they have had a full console generation to do so by going out and buying a Wii.  If they haven’t dipped their toe into the casual market yet, they are unlikely to do so just because it is now being offered on the Xbox 360 at a price of $149.99, a price which is still a touch high for a product which could very well be a novelty purchase.  Additionally, it remains to be seen whether or not the Kinect has enough to offer multi-console gamers to get them to drop the $149.99 for a controllerless experience.  If it does not,  the market for the Kinect will be limited to only new console buyers, a fact which greatly limit the Kinect’s success come November.

3. Controllers are good for games sometimes

Yeah, controller-free is awesome for a variety of reasons which have already been beaten to death; that being said though, controllers are really nice, even downright necessary for certain games.  The most obvious example of this is movement.  With the Move and Wiimote you have thumbsticks and d-pads to accomplish this, but how would gamers move on the Kinect without putting the game on rails?  Marching in place?  What about turning?  Will it be necessary to surround yourself with a 360 degree screen to allow for turns within a game?   Maybe I’m being closed minded and unoriginal but there don’t seem to be very many ways to incorporate something as simple as user controlled movement into a Kinect title.  Sure, you could do some sort of controller-Kinect hybrid game, but then developers run the risk of just feeling gimmicky as opposed to truly innovative.  The fact is, although making your body the controller is cool, it poses a lot of problems for developers and may limit just how many truly worthwhile games will be produced for the Kinect.  This problem can already be seen in the launch line-up, which is nearly entirely comprised of sports games, workout games, simple party games, and dance games.

4. There’s something to be said for familiarity

By now, most people who either have a console or are planning to buy one have played with the Wii or seen it being played.  As a result, when giving either the Move or the Wii a try, they will be comfortable with how to manipulate the in-game environment.  The Kinect control is obviously very different, and people’s first experience with it is bound to be a little bit weird as they get used to not dealing with any sort of controller.  This novelty could cut two ways: it could attract people who think it is an awesome experience or it could turn some people off to the Kinect simply because they aren’t comfortable how different it feels.  This initial discomfort may cause gamers who are interested in motion control to shy away from the Kinect and go for the more traditional options of the Wii and Move.

5. It is Launching after the Move

It’s simple, it’s obvious, and it could make all the difference in the world come holiday 2010.  The Move is launching more than a month before the Kinect this holiday season, which means that people will most likely already have had some sort of Move experience by the time November 4th rolls around.  This will put the Kinect in the unenviable position of having to provide something superior to the Move in the minds of the consumer.  The Kinect has a lot of cool features, but it might not have enough to convince gamers that it is worth the investment, especially when the technology is unproven

 

Ultimately I have no idea what is going to happen come November when Sony and Microsoft finally enter the motion-controlled market fully for the first time, as there are a million questions still to be answered.  Will most of the consumers for these products be current console owners or new console owners?  Kids or Adults? Men or Women?  Casual or Hardcore gamers?  How much will advertising affect sales of any product?  Ultimately, we probably won’t have an answer of whose motion controlled system is truly the best until developers have had a full year to get their hands on the technology and harness what the Kinect, Move, and Wii are capable of.  Until then, everyone, no matter their allegiance in this generation, can only agree on one thing: Kinectimals are effing adorable.

 

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