A camera that can interact with you in a 3D environment, that also can read your face, listen to what you have to say, and even move itself to keep track of you. Kinect, formerly “Project Natal” has come out and finally showed the world what it can do, but was it enough? I have been staying pretty up to date with E3 the best way I can without actually being there and Kinect is scratching that itch that I’ve wanted in motion gaming but something is missing. With the Wii and Sony’s Move as Kinect’s biggest competition I wanted to do a side by side comparison and see if Kinect has what it takes to really change gaming or if it will just fall into the shadows of its competition. I will focus on a few points; the Wii, Sony’s Move, and what it can do to really be the best it can be.
The Nintendo Wii was once a funny named idea that everyone thought would be a gimmick or fad and just shine for a while then die down. Wow, were we wrong, the people over at Nintendo showed their experience with the Wii by pretty much doing what they wanted to do and not worrying about what Sony or Microsoft were doing. Their big idea? Motion controls, of course with a little deception, they had us believing we were going to be in the game and ushering in a new era of gaming. Well at least they were half right. The Wii introduced “waggle” motion controls where certain movements would be picked up by a sensor that came with the system. These movements would then be played out with an animation in the game and the world went nuts! Everyone wanted a Wii, you could find one anywhere and all types were gunning for it. From young children to their grand parents, everyone wanted a piece of the Wii pie. Well 4 years later and 75 Million Wii’s sold, Microsoft and Sony have jumped on the bandwagon. Nintendo has evolved its tech in the last four years by adding such peripherals such as a microphone that sits on top of your television so that you can talk to other players, they have also created a platform on which you step up onto and it can measure how you are tilting your body. This was called the balance board and has mainly been used in work out games like Wii fit and EA Sports Active. More recently they released a add-on to the controller which gives players 1 to 1 movement with your given avatar on the screen, the Wii Motion Plus was supposed to usher in a new wave of more accurate motion gaming. Unfortunately it has not been well supported in it first year of being released. So as you can see Nintendo has been busy this generation and even though the games aren’t the best looking or most gory, they are raking in the cash thanks mainly to their motion control advantage of being first on the scene. After taking a closer look, it becomes apparent just how expensive this journey down Wii lane is costing.
Wii: $200 (comes with 1 Wii Controller, 1 Nunchuk, Wii Sports, necessary cables)
Wii Remote $40
Wii Speak $30
Wii Motion Plus $20
Wii Fit Plus W/Balance Board $100
Total for a full set of 4:$590
That’s a lot of cash! Now I understand that rarely does a family buy enough for 4 people but I’m sure it is practiced quite oven with families that play together. I will also be doing this for the other two competitors. I would like to note that these are the current market prices, when the Wii was first released it cost $250. The worst part about that price is that it does not include any “real” games. Wii Sports is fun but it shouldn’t really end with Wii Sports.
Sony on the other hand started with a bombshell. The price of the PS3 alone was more than everything for the Wii at a staggering $600, and that was just the system. Since then however the price was been cut by 50% with the base model now selling for a cool $299. Sony came out packed with the latest tech; a Blu-Ray drive, the Cell processor, built in WiFi, interchangeable hard drive, and wireless remotes with built in rechargeable batteries. This thing was a beast! Since then unlike the Wii it has removed some of it beastly tech, for example the ability to play the games of the previous generation (PS2) and most recently the ability to install a operating system (Linux Support). Sony came out with a very slow start with a few years of being completely left in the dust by Nintendo and Microsoft mainly because of the high price point and lack of quality titles. The lack of titles was mainly blamed on Sony’s beastly tech, the cell processor was still very new a very few developers had a clue on how to use it. Sony themselves deserve some blame seeing that they weren’t quick enough to offer assistance to the developers in need of it. As a result a lot of the titles released multiplatform were being developed for the Xbox 360 then ported over to the PS3 and in the process Sony’s system was getting the inferior version of these titles. Since then however developers have evolved to accustom Sony’s need and titles started to shine on Sony’s console like the Uncharted series, Infamous, Killzone, and so on. Some developers even started using the PS3 as their standard platform to develop their games and in the process leveling the playing field with Microsoft’s Xbox 360. When the slim was released and they introduced their new low price of $299, their sales soared through the roof mainly in Europe and Japan. So now that the storm is over Sony has set its sights on its own share of the motion control market by introducing the Playstation Move. The Move is a setup of controllers and a camera that work together to give you a more actuate motion control gaming experience. It worked by having the Move controller which consist of a wand type controller with a glowing orb on the top of it, this light given by the ball on the controller is then picked up by the Playstation Eye which is a camera that picks up all your movements and delivers a true 1 to 1 experience. The Move has not hit shelves yet so we have to go by what the people playing with it have to say and every one is united when it comes to the Moves ability to work. It also uses a Nunchuk type controller that is a little control that fits in the palm of your hand with a few buttons and a joystick on the top the purpose of this control is to navigate the players in-game avatar through what ever 3D world it happens to be in. Most gamers see this as the evolution of the Wii’s controls and have gone as far as to rename the PS3’s Move, Wii HD, But how does it stack up on price?
Playstation 3 Slim Base model: $300 (System, cables, regular control)
Playstation Move Bundle: $100 (Move Controller, Camera, Game)
Navigation Controller: $30
Move Control Alone: $50
Camera Alone: $40
Total for a full set (for 4 people): $670
That includes a brand new PS3 Slim ($300), a Move bundle ($100), 3 more Move controls ($150), and 4 Navigation Controls ($120). That quite a bit but as I said earlier the systems a beast. Now it is E3 time so we do get a chance to see some of these games that will be using this tech and one jumps out to me is called Motion Fighters (working title I hope), this uses 2 move controls, and they have already announced that their first party Move games will cost $40. Do the math, that’s $140 for 1 game! The game plus 2 Move controllers for a game that doesn’t even seem to have anything really going for it. This is where I see the Move running into some issues.
Finally we have Kinect, the once called “Project Natal” was finally revealed this week with a very odd poncho filled Cirque du Soleil show. Kinect has been the most questionable of the bunch because no one really knew much about it. Microsoft was the more traditional of the big 3 this generation by releasing a game system who’s main idea was just simply to play games. It has nice tech; a strong processor, extremely loud fans, and red lights that together almost destroyed Microsoft ambitious plans to be a staple in the gaming world. Microsoft had a short first generation by only lasting 5 years before completely killing the original Xbox. They entered this generation first, having a full year head start on the competition. Good move right? Wrong! What will go down in history as the worse technological mishap ever, almost ended the Xbox brand in total. But Microsoft stepped up and took their bumps and bruises in the form of billions of dollars in repairs that continue to this day. They offered everyone not just early adopters a 3 year warranty to repair the issue at hand. The issue was the infamous Red Ring of Death, a system killing over heating problem that plagues the 360’s to this day. It gets its name because Microsoft thought it would be cool to introduce a system to easily diagnose any issue the system could have. One flashing light means complete hardware failure, 2 flashing lights means the systems over heating, the now famous 3 flashing lights means general hardware failure (most famously overheating to the point of no longer working), 4 flashing lights is a AV cable error. Microsoft was able to pull out of this by having Blockbuster level games on there system. Two were exclusive with the Halo games and the Gears of War Series. The other big Blockbuster is the Call if Duty series which generally sells much better on Microsoft’s Console. Throughout all of this the Xbox 360 has been able to remain behind the Wii in worldwide sales mainly thanks to its sales in the US, the Xbox 360 is not as big as the other 2 consoles in other parts of the world such as Europe and Japan, the other 2 big markets in gaming. So like Sony, Microsoft wanted some of that casual market money Nintendo has been hogging to itself. That is where Kinect comes in, Kinect is a powerful camera that can not only capture your movements but it can go as far as to get a 3D view of you and the area around you. It’s features include facial recognition, voice recognition, gesture recognition for navigating menus, movies and music, and being able to pin point certain places on your body to read all your movements 1 to 1. The big difference between Kinect and the more similar Wii and Sony’s Move, is that with those it reads the controllers movements. Kinect reacts to your movements as a whole person and can also do this for more than one person at a time. Details are still coming out about Kinect some good some not so good, for example as of right now it can only read you if your standing. That might turn off a lot of gamers that get home from working or class all day and just want to sit, relax, and play a game, but to be fair the good (as far as tech goes) outweighs the bad with Kinect. The games shown for Kinect have mainly been fun, casual games for the whole family to enjoy. Move and Wii both have multiple M-Rated motion games in their collection while Kinect so far looks to maybe be pushing a T rating and that’s mainly because of Dance Central’s soundtrack. The Kinect is way too young to tell what it has up its sleeve for the future, but so far the only appeal seems to be for family gaming. As like the others lets see how much this will push back families wishing to purchase Kinect.
Xbox 360 Slim: $300 (System, control, cables)
Kinect: TBD but rumor has it at: $150
Total for full set of 4: $450
That right unlike the others, Kinect is one thing that works for multiple people at the same time. Like I said the price has not been made official yet, it has been rumored everywhere from$50 to $150 either way when it comes to value Kinect is destroying the competition. They have also claimed that Kinect will come with a copy of Kinect sports which only adds to the value.
Both Sony and Microsoft have said that they will have bundles that add Move and Kinect with the system. Sony’s bundle will cost $399 while we still have no word from Microsoft. Microsoft said that they will announce their prices before Gamescom in August. There is one thing that really bugs me about Kinect, and it’s the fact that not having a control really limits what you can do in a video game. While it might be fun to use your body as a controller, if you want to satisfy the millions that have stood by you through the good and really bad times. You have to make some hardcore games with Kinect and I personally don’t want a Kinect version of Halo or Gears of War, I want a real effort into a completely new area of gaming that the other two systems can’t reach. I want something that makes me go HOLY S&$% and makes Nintendo and Sony go running to try and make their own Kinect, but this idea of controller less gaming will never allow that to happen. I’m not calling for Wii-motes or wards with colored lights, your tech already surpasses that (in my opinion) all I want is a little controller that fits in the palm of my hand with a simple analog stick and maybe even a few buttons. This little contraption that you can sell for $10 and still make a profit from can turn Kinect from a family only gaming device to the hottest s&$% we have seen in a while. Why? Why, would something so small and simple make such a huge impact? Simple it allows you to move your in-game avatar in its 3D world, while still giving your body control of everything else. This eliminates Kevin Butler’s now famous “Pew, pew, pew” because all you have to do in hold up your arm to aim and in your hand you have a trigger. A simple button we have come to love and cherish. So not a fan of shooters but a little disappointed with the star wars trailer? Imagine not having to be on rails, actually having something in your hand during light saber battles. The sensation of vibration as you deflect shots and struggle while fighting Vader. Yes, a simple device that still allows controller free gaming for the casual market, but that can just as quickly be implemented into any hardcore game imaginable and not miss a beat. Just an idea.