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Avatar image for patrickklepek
Posted by patrickklepek (6436 posts) -

If Kinect suffers a slow death because of this week's news, it won't be Kinect's fault.

No Caption Provided

With Microsoft's announcement that consumers can now purchase Xbox One without a Kinect bundled in every package, it hasn't killed the device's prospects, but it's certainly tempered them. Fantasia is looking pretty great, and I suspect we'll see some other Kinect games at next month's E3.

But the news bums me out. I've always liked Kinect, warts 'n all. Most of Kinect's problems haven't been the result of shoddy technology. It's because designers keep asking the technology to accomplish tasks it's not very good at, and would likely never be very good at. This is partially Microsoft's fault. It planted the wrong seeds into the minds of developers, and only a few realized Microsoft was sending the wrong message as soon as the product was announced.

I was an early champion of the Wii, and the same was true for Kinect. I've spent years playing games with controllers, but the concept of interacting with games on a physical level, echoing a large part of my youth, has always been a tantalizing prospect. In the past 10 years, it seemed like games were heading in that direction.

Let's rewind to the original announcement for Kinect, back when it was called Project Natal in 2009. This was the same year director Steven Spielberg came on stage to tell us how excited he was about gaming.

There are several theoretical uses for Kinect in this video: becoming a kung-fu master, piloting a steering wheel in a race car, swinging a monster's arms around while destroying a city, fully controlling a soccer player, riding a skateboard, hitting an imaginary button in a game show. There's a common thread between these ideas, and it's that Kinect can replicate reality. There's one-to-one interaction between player and technology.

Microsoft's premise argues motion control can replace the controllers that we're used to. The subtext is that controllers, compared to Kinect, are an inferior form of interaction. The company's "you are the controller" message underscored this. In reality, Microsoft had it backwards. Motion control technology, at least as it exists now and for the foreseeable future, is not great at replacing what controllers are good at, but it's fantastic at replicating a form of reality. Only a few developers actually realized this was the true potential behind Kinect.

I'd call this the uncanny valley problem in motion control form.

The uncanny valley is when technology is able to almost mimic reality. You know, like this:

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Hold me.

When Project Natal became Kinect in 2010 and Microsoft unveiled the first wave of games to use the hardware, there was a clear standout: Dance Central. It's easy to credit some of the runaway success Kinect experienced (more than 24 million units sold as an accessory--not bad at all) to Harmonix's dancing game. Dance Central wasn't about mimicking reality. It's easy to imagine another developer making a dance game using a camera capable of tracking your skeleton would have your dance moves replicated on-screen. Dance Central smartly took Kinect's limitations at face value and found a way to leverage what it was capable of.

We already have a pretty good idea how that might have turned out:

Compare that to Wii Sports from a few years earlier, an inspiration for Kinect. I didn't love playing tennis or bowling because the motion fidelity in Wii Sports realistically recreated what it was based on, I loved them because in a very video game-y way, it approximated the experience in the pursuit of fun. It felt like tennis and bowling. Wii Sports may have been designed that way due to technological limitations, but it was a better experience. The march of technology can often blind us to the advantages of having rules and barriers.

Johann Sebastian Joust designer Doug Wilson was talking about this on Twitter recently:

[1/2] Bummed to see people /celebrate/ the death of Kinect. Yes, Microsoft botched it massively, but physical play is important, and fun.

— Douglas Wilson (@doougle) May 13, 2014

[2/2] For example: Dance Dance Revolution remains one of *the* most flat-out FUN games ever made. Still so hungry for those kinds of games.

— Douglas Wilson (@doougle) May 13, 2014

[1/2] Also, if you're looking for "higher fidelity tech" to rescue motion control gaming, you fundamentally misunderstand physical play.

— Douglas Wilson (@doougle) May 14, 2014

[2/2] The core problem w/ the Kinect was NOT the tech itself, but a lack of studios who "got" how to subvert the constraints.

— Douglas Wilson (@doougle) May 14, 2014

Microsoft wanted Kinect to be something more than it was. It overpromised. Developers didn't course correct and take advantage of Kinect's strengths, they kept playing into its flaws. This developed into a narrative that Kinect was flawed. While I won't argue it's perfect, the problems have more to do with how it was used.

One of Kinect's most promising moments on Xbox 360 was Double Fine's Happy Action Theater. You know what Happy Action Theater does? It doesn't give a shit about Kinect's inability to properly track you. Instead, the designers incorporated the fuzzy nature of the technology into the aesthetic, and encouraged players to be subversive through design. Happy Action Theater relishes and indulges in Kinect's quirks.

It should have signaled a new way forward with designing Kinect games on Xbox One. Embrace what the device is, rather than pretending it's something else. Instead, Microsoft decided it would try the same thing all over again. See: Kinect Sports Rivals, which seemingly came and went without anyone taking notice.

At least we got this out of it.

It's not a huge surprise AAA game developers would target realism over and over again. We see that all the time in genres that have nothing to do with motion controls. What's more frustrating is how little Microsoft allowed independent creators to go wild with Kinect. Imagine if Microsoft had opened up Kinect to its independent scene on Xbox Live Indie Games. Imagine if Microsoft tried to do something like that with Kinect Fun Labs, a failed experiment almost nobody remembers because, once again, Kinect was exclusive to bigger developers. Imagine if Microsoft had created a publishing fund that encouraged creatives to try their hands at Kinect development. Instead, we were mostly left with what Microsoft backed and lots of fitness games.


We've seen people do amazing things with Kinect. How come none of this creativity translated to games?

Based on the conversations I've had with developers over the years, it's not for lack of trying. There were evangelists within the company who wanted to see Kinect achieve more, developers who wanted o try, but there was a very specific vision for what Kinect should be, and being more "open" wasn't part of that.

There's little surprise, then, that the most inventive use of Kinect in years, Fru, came from an independent developer. In Fru, players use their body to unmask hidden platforms, and use a controller to move a character around. Like Happy Action Theater, it's not concerned with absolute accuracy and embraces its imprecisions. The developers told me at GDC that they're building a new version for Kinect on Xbox One. Microsoft's takeaway should be to find ways to generate way awesome experiments like this. There's no sign of that.

It's sad. It's really sad. And that's without acknowledging how Microsoft has systematically dismantled almost every piece of its new hardware platform that was supposed to make it different. I don't know what the future holds for Kinect, but accessories in games don't have a particularly great track record, and it's not like Kinect on Xbox One has been at the center of the conversation around Microsoft's new machine. I suspect it will continue to be part of the interface, and we'll see some token games funded by Microsoft a few times per year.

It's probably too late now, but it's nice to dream. It could have been different.

Sorry, Kinect. It wasn't your fault.

Avatar image for nickhead
#1 Posted by nickhead (1097 posts) -

Thanks for the article, Patrick. I personally never used a Kinect ever because:

1. I didn't know a single person who had one.
2. Nothing looked compelling enough for me to go out and buy one.

I'm sorry Microsoft!

Avatar image for rokkaku
#3 Posted by Rokkaku (266 posts) -

Anyone think Microsoft will follow Sony's lead (again) this generation after the positive noises coming out about Project Morpheus? If Sony gets VR right, it's surely bad news for Microsoft, especially if they're still only offering Kinect - as impressive as the Kinect technology is, it would look archaic next to a functioning, fun VR set.

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#4 Posted by Random45 (1726 posts) -

"It's because designers keep asking the technology to accomplish tasks it's not very good at, and would like never be very good at."

Probably meant to say 'likely' there.

And yeah, I agree with the general idea of the article. It's very unfortunate that Microsoft tried to take it into a direction that it really shouldn't have. It's also sad to see Microsoft trying so desperately to catch up to the PS4, but it's their own damn fault, so I guess I can't feel too down about it in the end.

Avatar image for graboids
#5 Posted by graboids (316 posts) -

I can agree with almost all of this. When Project Natal was introduced at E3 (2009 I think) I was amazed… I started telling everyone that would listen about it, how amazing it seemed and how it seemed like "magic" almost. I loved the things they showed, the painting demo where they made the elephant specifically. I also really liked the idea in the Milo demo where you could hold up something to the camera and Milo would be able to see it and react to its color or shape, those ideas could have been worked into games in very cool ways.

But then it turned into Kinect. We had the cult-like event with space paunches and it all felt very "Kool Aid-ish"… and my worst fear for Project Natal came to be… it went from being the "next step" to being just a different version of the Wii, a Wii where you didn't have to hold anything. I have been VERY anti-Kinect since then, and I am going to buy the Kinectless SKU when it comes out, because the moment I saw that MS just wanted their own Wii to chase the casual market and not a device that could push things forward I was out… and I've seen no reason to come back.

Avatar image for thelastgunslinger
#6 Posted by TheLastGunslinger (575 posts) -

@rokkaku: If MS goes the VR route their headset will probably use Kinect for body tracking, much like Morpheus uses the PS Eye, so there' still some hope left for the camera.

Avatar image for dan_citi
#7 Posted by Dan_CiTi (4578 posts) -

Good job with this article, I hope MS can show that Kinect matters outside of a few games in the lifespan of the system (like the maybe 5 games that did anything worthwhile with the first Kinect.)

And while I totally respect Doug Wilson a lot, saying DDR is one of the most fun games ever? Totally silly. Those games are pretty okay at best, even playing songs I like on them.

Avatar image for glacialhelmnun
#8 Posted by glacialhelmnun (58 posts) -

I am sad to see the Kinect go but it still seems like the right move to me. Price matters, and apparently Microsoft didn't learn Sony's lesson from last time around. I also think that the crazy success of Dance Central and Wii Sports will ensure that we'll continue to see weird peripheral experiments going forward.

Finally, because I am anal:

2nd paragraph: I've always like Kinect, warts 'n all.

3rd from last paragraph: developers who wanted o try

Avatar image for themanwithnoplan
#9 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (7008 posts) -

Wow. We went from it being a mandatory peripheral to use with the system. Then it was optional, but still included with each box and now it's going the way of the Kinect 1. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from it, but it would've been nice to see developers figure out something cool to do with it this time around.

Avatar image for fuzz
#10 Posted by Fuzz (43 posts) -

Awesome article, Patrick. :)

It's refreshing to see an alternative narrative around Kinect and it's (possible) fate; not one that simply sneers at the hardware and its past failures.

Avatar image for sil3n7
#11 Posted by Sil3n7 (1435 posts) -

It's true that using the kinect as a controller replacement has been a terrible idea, but I also believe it means the kinect is inherently less capable of a wide range of games.

Dance Central leveraged direct body tracking in a way that was not possible or, I would argue, fun on a traditional controller.

Avatar image for mrcraggle
#12 Posted by mrcraggle (2869 posts) -

I really have to question what MS has planned for the XB1. Their vision was ambitious but soon after scrapped almost all of their ideas with the infamous Xbox One80 and now, not even a year into the consoles life, they're taking out another piece of that vision. MS have said that Kinect is the centre of the Xbox One but without it, it's just another box and completely ruins the idea that a dev can make a Kinect game and not have to worry whether or not that an XB1 owner has one.

Avatar image for ultrapeanut
#13 Edited by ultrapeanut (419 posts) -

If nothing else, Kinect has made for some great video content on the site.

Avatar image for hailinel
#14 Posted by Hailinel (25787 posts) -

Whatever happened to Kudo "BAM!" Tsunoda?

Avatar image for deathpooky
#15 Posted by Deathpooky (1690 posts) -

The thing that held me back from the Kinect were always the space requirements. It was not a device made for apartment living. Well, that and the complete lack of games outside of Dance Central.

I definitely agree things like DDR and Wii Sports, and arguably Rock Band, created some great physical and social gaming experiences and I'd be open to more things like that. But Kinect was just too limited, restrictive, and annoying.

Though I still find it incredible that Microsoft spent almost a year forcing people to buy the Kinect and eating it in the market with the price point, and they didn't have a single god damn game to back it up or justify it. Even though we've spent years saying how almost most Kinect 1.0 games were derivative, fake-Wii crap.

Avatar image for wewantsthering
#16 Edited by wewantsthering (1651 posts) -

I think Patrick gives the handful of Kinect games that worked too much credit. They only worked because they usually played into how bad the detection can be. Outside of voice commands, I haven't seen a single game that was better with Kinect. Sure, dance games are alright, but it still isn't accurate enough. There's enough wiggle room in the detection to make it a frustrating experience. There's also enough people who don't have space where it just doesn't make sense for everyone to have them.

Avatar image for numberthirtyone
#17 Edited by numberThirtyOne (116 posts) -

Tough breaks for Harmonix. When what is good for the consumer is bad for your game studio though.... you're in a bad spot.

Avatar image for dedbeet
#18 Posted by DedBeet (607 posts) -

If nothing else, Kinect has made for some great video content on the site.

That stupid Intel game quick look with LMFAO will always live fondly in my memory: "I'm having a terrible time, if that means anything."

Avatar image for jman240
#19 Edited by jman240 (93 posts) -

I... don't think this has anything to do with the uncanny valley, Patrick. I think you make good points aside from that, but the uncanny valley is really just meant to refer to the area between reality and what we can make - in which something is disturbing to a portion of an audience because of what it's missing despite looking so close to human. So the Japanese head robots are, but developers inability to make use of kinect properly wouldn't fall into the uncanny valley.

I mean, if kinect's fall from grace fit into the uncanny valley that would be the kinect's fault because it can't get to the point that it perfectly translates human figures and motion into a game. We'd have people saying what's produced in a kinect game from the image it's taking of a human is revolting or disturbing. We'd also have critics pointing at it's inability to properly replicate the nuances of the thing it attempts to simulate, rather than it's relative inability to properly function as a form of input. I haven't heard anyone say they think goofy character models or Dance Central color silhouettes are revolting though. I agree with your argument, but it isn't about the uncanny valley, just developers not understanding the tech and being unwilling to design with it in mind. I think the uncanny valley bit here is out of place.

As for the kinect, I'm not terribly sad it's gone. I have knee problems, no space and no interest in most of what was produced for it. I don't think Microsoft ever saw kinect as anything more than a means to an end, a way to capture a share of a competitors market. With that in mind, I never expected it to get the attention it deserved. Plus, Microsoft has a long history of outright abandoning peripherals. They haven't done that with kinect yet, but they missed their chance to move on and I expect it to whither out in a couple years. Hope they prove that wrong, totally cool with there being something out there that's not for me, but I don't see Microsoft salvaging this.

Avatar image for zironz
#20 Posted by ZironZ (114 posts) -

I loved DDR back in the day. It was the prefect music game because it embraced the fact that it was game and not really about dancing.

I was actually disappointed with Dance Central because it felt like it was trying way too hard to bring actual dancing into it.

Avatar image for davekap
#21 Edited by DaveKap (102 posts) -

If Kinect suffers a slow death because of this week's news, it won't be Kinect's fault.

I cannot agree with this statement at all. Leveraging the Kinect correctly made for a fun experience, yes, but only momentarily. It never made for a long-lasting, deep, engrossing experience. It never made for the kind of entertainment that normal controller-driven gaming gave. Maybe it was never supposed to, maybe it never should have, but if that were true then the Kinect and its resulting games shouldn't have been priced any higher than the 10 dollar toys they were. Those demos linked? Those are fun for minutes, not hours. And if the Kinect was supposed to deliver that strong, long-lasting entertainment value, then it would need to have been built better with higher fidelity and zero latency issues. Either way I look at it, it's Kinect's and Microsoft's fault.

That being said, the 3 biggest take-aways I have with motion controls come from 3 device/game pairings that did it best. That first DBZ game on the Wii (steep learning curve, amazing results) that gladiator game in Sports Champions with the PS Move (high-fidelity, satisfying results) and Double Fine's theater games (for reasons already stated.) [I also want to point out that Double Fine's games are cheap/free because they know it's just a toy] Those three games used their tech appropriately and few-to-no developers have copied them since. It's a shame but it's time to give up on motion controls. If you want to be active, go do it outside with the rest of the world.

Or play DDR.

Avatar image for nomin
#22 Posted by Nomin (1004 posts) -

I think it is a bit premature for those who deem Kinect a failure, or even in a death spiral. If MS opens this accessory a bit more then the potential by the boatload as shown by hundreds of interesting projects done on the first Kinect can attest to, can give it a new lease on life. And it is too late for MS to back out of this venture now, everything from the systems resources footprint to interface and navigation have been designed around Kinect.

Avatar image for maxxs
#23 Posted by MaxxS (210 posts) -

the main problem, I think, is that too many developers treat Kinect as an alternative to the Wii Remote, but the Kinect doesn't react the same way, it doesn't have the same tactile input. It's like that old comparison of apples and oranges. Developers keep trying to make apple pie when all the have are oranges, and it doesn't work.

Avatar image for bob_omb
#24 Posted by Bob_Omb (76 posts) -


Just another example of the potential that Kinect has/had...

Here´s to hoping that it will live on and find it´s place, even if it´s not in gaming.

Avatar image for billyok
#25 Edited by billyok (518 posts) -

I liked the idea of Kinect. I loved the idea that was presented on stage at its unveiling in 2009. But Microsoft, doing what it does too well and too often, gave up on it multiple times. Part of the reason I'll never get another Xbox-branded item after my caravan of broken 360s.

So glad it's Sony and not Microsoft that's leading the VR charge on consoles. If it takes off, Microsoft can overreact later like it does best, and then overreact in the other direction six months later. I'm no longer paying attention. If this was a play to make the Xbox One more appealing to people like me, it backfired miserably, because now that system has exactly zero appeal.

Avatar image for video_game_king
#26 Posted by Video_Game_King (36564 posts) -

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Strangely enough, the exact look on my face when Microsoft announced that Kinect was no longer mandatory.

Avatar image for sgtsphynx
#27 Posted by SgtSphynx (2420 posts) -

Rally interesting article, Patrick.

Now I do not have an XONE, and have never played on a Kinect, but I have a couple of thoughts:

1. I am kind of sad that MS has seemingly abandoned the Kinect, and really about all their course changes since the XONE's announcement. The potential in those original ideas, and the Kinect, was truly something. Now while there is still some potential for innovation on the Kinect, it is that much harder due to that guaranteed Kinect with every XONE not being there.

2. I'm willing to give Phil Spencer the benefit of the doubt, and now I am probably most interested in MS's E3 conference just to see what the new vision for XONE is, but this seems nothing like their original vision for the console.

Avatar image for somejerk
#28 Posted by SomeJerk (4077 posts) -

Lack of studios who could figure out how to use it, dingdingding. The Wii eventually got busy with third party shovelware, the Kinect and Kinect2 have been almost entirely shovelware. Could Kinect (and not just voice recognition because Sony's mastered that with the PS2 PS Eye) be integrated as an optional but worthwhile enough peripheral to positively enhance the experience? Could a seriously great globally-acknowledged AAA game be built around the Kinect?


(I want to be proven wrong in the future. PlatinumGames?)

Avatar image for heatdrive88
#29 Posted by heatDrive88 (2932 posts) -

Never forget, you guys. Never forget.

Loading Video...

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#30 Edited by connerthekewlkid (1873 posts) -

@somejerk said:

(and not just voice recognition because Sony's mastered that with the PS2 PS Eye)

You almost had me for a second there.

Avatar image for bobbyr
#31 Posted by Bobbyr (94 posts) -

Kinect isn't a peripheral. It's a state of being

Avatar image for poltergeist13
#32 Posted by poltergeist13 (100 posts) -

All I know is Microsoft is listening to hardcore gamers, either you can whine or cheer. Microsoft sold about 25 million Kinects for Xbox 360, Guinness Book of World Records claim it to being the "fastest selling consumer electronics device." So about 90 million Xbox 360s have been sold, almost 1/3 of them own a Kinect. The crowd here on Giant Bomb or most gaming sites could really care less for Kinect. But I have nieces and nephews, cousins, they love the thing. Kinect will live or die by the games that come out for it. Harmonix and Rare could by themselves give people reason enough to buy a Kinect. People sure didn't mind paying 200 bucks for Rock Band kits. I'm sure the Kinect for Xbox One with be no more than 100 bucks. Surely they'll probably bundle Disney Fantasia with Kinect this fall. May work may fail. Gaming industry is gone bonkers. Maybe that's good for us gamers in the end. I say the more options the better.

Avatar image for grantheaslip
#33 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -

I haven't spent much time with Kinect, but my sense has always been that its problem was its unreliability, inaccuracy, and latency -- three things that can absolutely ruin controls of any kind. Because of its inherent limitations, the only games that could really work on it were stupidly simple and undemanding, or basically just interactive toys.

The Wii motion controls are a different beast, because they were designed and marketed from the start to augment (rather than replace) traditional controls. Even Wii Sports -- probably the simplest Wii game -- uses the buttons and d-pad a fair bit, and is much better for it. Microsoft's "you are the controller" vision was interesting, but it also doomed the Kinect to dance games, awkward minigames, and Happy Action Theatre-style toys. I was never really a fan of the Wii motion and pointer controls, but I do think Nintendo deserves credit for implementing them in a way that didn't immediately ghettoize them.

Kinect a neat technology, but one that was never well-suited to remotely complex games. The latency alone was a deal-breaker right from the start if the goal was immersion -- the palpable delay has immediately bugged me whenever I've played a Kinect game. I don't think it's fair to blame its fate on developers not getting it, especially when "it" was a pack-in for a $500 system mostly owned by hardcore enthusiasts who had long-since (and quite understandably) written off the Kinect as a bad control mechanism.

@jman240 said:

I... don't think this has anything to do with the uncanny valley, Patrick. I think you make good points aside from that, but the uncanny valley is really just meant to refer to the area between reality and what we can make - in which something is disturbing to a portion of an audience because of what it's missing despite looking so close to human. So the Japanese head robots are, but developers inability to make use of kinect properly wouldn't fall into the uncanny valley. [...]

Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. Uncanny valley has a pretty specific meaning, and this isn't it.

Avatar image for cannibalferox
#34 Edited by CannibalFerox (304 posts) -

Goodbye, Kinect. Hello, Xbox Complete!

No Caption Provided

...just kidding. Xbox love.

Avatar image for adamwd
#35 Posted by ADAMWD (716 posts) -

But... but... I am the controller!

Avatar image for wjist
#36 Posted by WJist (330 posts) -

Great article, Patrick. This sums up how I've felt about motion gaming since its inception.

Specific to Kinect, however, was the cost it was asking for the consumer to assume to try a genuinely new product. People really glommed onto Wii motion controls not because they were great, but because the cost and barrier to entry was low next to the Kinect - it came straight from the box on day one. The Kinect was priced high for an accessory that supported only a handful of games and, when it was released, the 360 had been on the market for so long that the game-buying public brought expectations to that system the Kinect was never going to fulfill.

My parents LOVEDWii Sports, but when we introduced them to Dance Central, they asked me how much it would cost for them to get this game at their home. When the cost was too high, they opted not to get it. I ended up sacrificing my old Wii (Wiimotes and all) with an upgrade to the WiiU just so they could play Wii Sports...and I suspect I will never find a reason to buy 4 Wiimotes and install a sensor bar ever again.

When I get the Xbox One, I'm going to opt out of Kinect. Dance Central is a compelling franchise, but it's the only mainstream Kinect product that ever had any traction...and I'm not paying that Kinect toll for just one game more than once.

Avatar image for jedted
#37 Posted by Jedted (2875 posts) -

I still don't see why they can't pack the Kinect with a pair cool looking motion capture gloves to make more responsive. Too bad MS is so fixed on keeping it simple for the casual gaming audience.

Avatar image for alwaysbebombing
#38 Posted by alwaysbebombing (2397 posts) -

Honestly, I never liked the Kinect. To me, it never seemed useful. I don't like to use voice commands anywhere, if I am exercising it's at a gym and not in front of my Xbox. There was never a use for me and I am happy I can buy without it.

Avatar image for purplespandex
#39 Posted by PurpleSpandex (297 posts) -

Kinect opens gaming up to weirdness, in a world of sequels and a general lack of creativity we need weirdness.

Avatar image for draxyle
#40 Posted by Draxyle (2019 posts) -

If only the people who took the reigns of the Xbox One over the last several months were in charge of its development two years ago; we would probably have had a much better kinect lineup that actually played to its strengths.

Everything about that original reveal only showed complete obliviousness to the criticisms of Kinect 1.0. Kinect 2.0 should have been an apology and a course correct for the tech, but it didn't seem like they were even aware that the original device was derided in a majority of its uses.

Avatar image for murdoc_
#41 Posted by Murdoc_ (715 posts) -

Losing the kinect is sad and thank you for writing the article. There are so many cool things that could have happened with it and augmenting a lot of games in the future if it was built into every xbox. Good luck trying to convince anyone to spend the resources to add features for a peripheral now.

Can't wait to see an Occulus + Kinect on the PC do some amazing stuff in a couple years and have people get excited.

Avatar image for xyzygy
#42 Edited by xyzygy (10595 posts) -

Great write up, Patrick.

I really don't get why people are saying Microsoft abandoned Kinect. Kinect is being sold as of June 7 EXACTLY the same way like any other accessory, and this way it's better for the customer if they don't want that accessory. I'm sure that when a new Dance Central comes along for the obviously improved Kinect 2, people will get it, perhaps in a bundle with that game and others in the future.

I understand the viewpoint that since the Kinect can now be purchased separately there will be a lack of user base for the accessory. But it's not like they're getting rid of all Kinect bundles - I know for a fact that when I get an Xbox One, I will get the Kinect bundle. Not really for games at all, but for everything else. I find the voice controls to work really great, maybe it's just how I talk or something. And the recognition stuff is pretty cool. I still think it makes the console unique and just because the console can be purchased without it doesn't detract from that.

People saying that the Xbox One lost it's defining factor are utterly and completely wrong because you can still buy the damn thing. People now have more options to buy the console, which is what they complained about in the first place, and now they complain about how MS is apparently setting Kinect off to die after they are provided with options for buying the console. So dumb.

Avatar image for spilledmilkfactory
#43 Posted by spilledmilkfactory (2067 posts) -

I very much agree with Patrick's view of the Kinect. I had a great time playing games like Fruit Ninja and Happy Action Theater on my 360 because they embraced the wonkiness of motion control. Heck, I even had fun laughing at Rise of Nightmares and the inept ways that they tried to make motion controls more "realistic." But positioning the Kinect as a mandatory pack-in with the Xbox One was a death sentence from day one if Microsoft didn't seriously change their approach to the peripheral, and look what's happened now.

You'd think that sometime over the last year, Microsoft would have realized that they needed to open Kinect as a platform to more creators. I mean, nobody's using the thing in AAA development, even internally at Microsoft. Watching that shadow puppet video just made me frustrated that nobody was able to take that (or any of those other community-developed PC projects) and develop it out into something bigger. Imagine implementing tech like that into a game like The Puppeteer, and being able to influence the stage environment around you in real time. Or heck, even think about a free app that lets you stage stories for your kids. And that's just one of a hundred possible implementations.

Like pretty much every other Microsoft product over the last year or two, the Kinect has suffered more from confused messaging and poor implementation that from outright bad design, and it's just frustrating to see.

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#44 Edited by thefriend (213 posts) -

The kinect in theory is a very cool peice of tech. The problem that it's always had is latency. The time it takes to track a person's movement is just too high. This is a battle the Oculus guys are dealing with, but in the Kinect case, MS has to use video processing software instead of a chip. In which case the chip is much faster, and all of the issues are mainly dealing with hardware or low level optimization.

Then compounded upon this issue, the consoles are dealing with very limited technology and processing power compared to the PC. This doesn't help the kinect at all. For the kinect to be what MS originally fantasized it as, it would need a significant boost to processing power. Kinect 2.0 is a step in the right direction, and I'm still curious to see new games that are designed for it. I'm just not sure the XBONE has to capability to give the kinect tech the processing power that it requires. And yes, I'm sure the kinect does some processing inside the kinect itself, but I'm positive it's offloading a ton of the calculations to the GPU.

Everyone should have known those kinect commercials back in the day were complete dribble, but I think MS is completely responsible for showcasing trailers that misrepresented what the technology was capable of.

tl:dr: Great tech, Wrong company.

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#45 Posted by crithon (3979 posts) -

excellent article, really makes you think about microsoft's problems considering they are leading technology innovator for the past 35 years.

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#46 Posted by LemonJoose (65 posts) -

People will buy peripherals when they see gameplay that is appealing enough to them. Unbundling Kinect from the Xbox One doesn't spell doom for either. Dance & fitness games weren't appealing to me so I never bought a Kinect, but on the other hand I did go out and buy Guitar Hero with the bundled Guitar, and millions of others spent hundreds of dollars to buy the complete set of peripherals for Rock Band, etc. And as you point out, 24 million people did go out and buy Kinect for the 360. Sony can't keep their PS4 camera in stock because they underestimated the popularity of using it for live streaming.

People who are fans of dance and fitness games will continue to buy Kinect, as will people who want try their hand at competing with Spookin-with Scoops with their own live-streams on Twitch, and people who want to Skype with friends and family using the living room TV. And if developers come up with additional types of "killer-apps" for Kinect, it's popularity will continue to increase beyond that base.

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#47 Edited by spraynardtatum (4368 posts) -

Wait....Kinect died?


If anything not making the Kinect a lazily forced bundle will give the device more life. Now it is required to fight to show its relevance as opposed to getting a free ride. It can now prove its worth rather than lie that it's already worthy. It should have never been bundled in the first place. Especially in 2013 (no one in their right mind wanted to put a camera in their living room last summer).

ID@Xbox is where Kinect will shine (if Microsoft lets it) and those games will never have the burden of being expected to be a best seller. The need for everyone to have one is nonexistent. The focus needs to be on creative thinking and not reaching the biggest audience. This decision to CORRECTLY call the Kinect an accessory forces that focus.

The Kinect was doomed when it was bundled. It was being relegated to just a microphone. People that like the Kinect should be happy that it actually needs to compete now. Nothing great comes from anything that doesn't require a little elbow grease.

I say good riddance to the idea that Kinect is integral to the Xbox One and part of the machine. It never was. That is what you call bullshit. Why anyone believed them is mind blowing. Pushing that kind of messaging was killing it faster than unbundling it ever could.

If you believe that developers won't make games for this now that it isn't in every single home than you have absolutely no faith in the device or the people making your games.

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#48 Posted by Corevi (6795 posts) -

June 1st 2014 shall forever be known as "Well, BAM! There it is."

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#49 Posted by viking_funeral (2600 posts) -

I tried Kinect. What it ultimately came down to is that the games weren't fun. Even the Wii games were fun to dick around with. The only Kinect game to hold my interest for more than a day was the Double Fine one, and that lasted a weekend.

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#50 Edited by SomeJerk (4077 posts) -

@connerthekewlkid said:

@somejerk said:

(and not just voice recognition because Sony's mastered that with the PS2 PS Eye)

You almost had me for a second there.

No. It would recognize thick Engrish pronunciation of things like song titles for SingStar and do the most basic short voice commands. It's just that only Sony used it and SingStar's mainly a Euro/Japan thing.

(Nnnn brainfart, that was the SingStar mic, came along with the PS2 Eye. Still, that was voice recognition and commants. PS3 Eye had a four-mic array to make ranged detection easier and circuits for it but who used it? Sony did..)