Microsoft’s venture into motion-sensitive peripherals has been the subject of much scrutiny ever since it was first unveiled under the name of Project Natal fully twelve months ago. Now we know that the add-on will be labeled Kinect and we even know, mostly, how it’s going to work. However, the jury is still out on whether or not Kinect will add anything worthwhile to the Xbox 360 experience and large doubts remain that this will be the product to finally push Microsoft gaming out into the mainstream. Analysts at DFC Intelligence are the latest to pour water on the flames of Kinect’s hype, suggesting that they feel its impact upon the market will be negligible, having come too late into the 360’s life cycle to contribute to any large swing in customer base. Apparently due for launch on November 4 with a fairly hefty $150 price point, Kinect hasn’t impressed DFC enough for them to feel that it will eat into Nintendo’s sizable market of casual gamers in any significant way. Their gloomy forecast concludes that “unfortunately, based on what we have seen, DFC continues to feel that Microsoft is going to struggle to expand beyond its core audience”.
Given that anybody who already owns an Xbox 360 is probably viewed by analysts as a hardcore gamer already, any casuals that might be tempted into the Microsoft fold would have to fork out for the cost of the console as well as its new piece of add-on kit, meaning that the Nintendo Wii begins to look even more of a bargain in comparison. There may be a decently sized set of casual-friendly titles slated for launch along with Kinect but will it be enough to draw the masses away from the Wii? Microsoft, of course, is appearing publicly unruffled and worldwide product marketing manager, Ryan Moore, has even openly admitted that initial sales of the new device are expected to predominantly come from their existing fan base. Whether or not Kinect will be the weapon with which MS finally breaks into the mainstream market it so evidently covets, or instead turns out to be merely an expensive curiosity for the hardcore, is still very much up for debate.
Is anybody out there pumped for Kinect? And how do you see it affecting Microsoft’s positioning in the gaming market?