Meet Kinect for Xbox 360 – A Look into Microsoft’s Strategy
Can Kinect for Xbox 360 Compete With the Wii?
Microsoft Natal is now Microsoft Kinect. First thought: I really don’t connect with the new name (see what I did there?). While the codename “Project Natal” never really got me excited, I liked the recent rumors pointing towards “Microsoft Wave.” It was easy to remember, simple, and most importantly descriptive of the product. But after the massive backlash against the name “Nintendo Wii,” maybe the name doesn’t matter very much. People will get used to it and then it will be judged on its merits and positioning.
As I mentioned in last week’s E3 preview article, Microsoft’s faced two challenges going into this week’s reveal of its 3D camera peripheral: positioning and price.
Positioning: Until now it’s been unclear exactly who this product was for. Initially, it seemed obvious that it was a direct response to the massive success of the Nintendo Wii which brought many women and older gamers into the video game industry. This group has brought Nintendo a constant stream of revenue, and though many 3rd party game developers have struggled to repeat the success Nintendo has had on the platform, Microsoft definitely wants a piece of that pie. Over the course of the past year, Microsoft had sent mixed messages though, saying that hardcore gamers will “absolutely love Natal” and therefore leading many in the industry to believe that there would be at least one or two games targeting the Xbox 360′s traditional base.
Well, after learning that Kinect will be launching with games like Kinectimals (talk about a horrible name!), a Wii Sports copycat, a yoga game, a Star Wars game, and a river rafting game called JoyRide, it’s clear that this is going after the casual market that we all initially assumed it would. Microsoft seems less interested in getting the 40+ Million Xbox 360 owners to buy this thing than the 70+ Million Nintendo Wii owners.
This is the right approach. Kinect will definitely turn off the 18-35 year old male gamers who have nurtured the video game industry from its infancy and who have been the biggest supporters of Microsoft’s Xbox brand. These are the same gamers who rejected the Wii and still feel betrayed by Nintendo. It would take a lot for them to suddenly begin praising motion controls and buying mini-game collections.
But this strategy also has its flaws. While Kinect for Xbox 360 offers better graphics and better internet capabilities than the Wii, and it also is more accessible as there is no need for ANY controller, many Wii owners have a “fool me once” attitude towards video games at the moment. I personally know many Wii owners who haven’t bought a game since getting the system with Wii Sports, and who would be very reluctant to buy a new piece of hardware that pretty much replicates the Wii experience.
Microsoft really needed to show a single must-have title, and from what I’ve heard it doesn’t look like it was there.
About price…well we don’t know anything. It’s possible that an announcement will be coming tomorrow at Microsoft’s proper press conference. After all, there is supposedly a new Xbox 360 Slim coming as well, and it would make sense for that to be bundled with Kinect. People have been throwing around $189.99 as a possible price point all week, and I really hope that’s not the final price for the add-on. It would be a great (although unrealistic) price for a bundle with 360 hardware, but this definitely needs to be at a mass market price if it’s going to be successful with the audience it’s going after.
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