Shovelware is a term given to rapidly-released, low-quality games. It runs rampant where production costs are low and consumer enthusiasm is high. Still confused? Allow me to point you in the direction of the Wii and iPhone.
There are games for the Wii that the Grinch wouldn’t touch with a ten-and-a-half foot pole; sloppy animation, weak gameplay, and controls inspired by the wacky, waving, inflatable arm flailing tube man. Slap a price tag of $20 on it, however, and everyone goes crazy! People used to seeing $50 prices are blown away by a console game available for $20. This trick is especially effective on parents and grandparents looking for a gift. They often don’t know what to look for, so they think two $20 games is better than one $50 game. There is not always strength in numbers.
The iPhone’s situation…ugh. The games worth playing are in the minority. Most of the games lack the polish I have come to expect growing up on consoles. Fatal programming errors, extremely repetitive gameplay, and spelling/grammatical mistakes plague the multitude. The silver lining here is a bad purchase only sets you back one to five dollars.
The Kinect is in a different boat. While the Wii and iPhone are extremely versatile pieces of hardware, the Kinect is only a supplementary piece of technology. I’ve read a bunch of mixed reviews for the Kinect, but they all applaud the novelty. What I am terrified of is spending $150 for a one-trick pony. Furthermore, the buzz surrounding the Kinect is reminiscent of the Wii, when people were in love with the innovative control system.
Will the Kinect suffer a plague of shovelware like the Wii and iPhone have? Time will tell—in the meantime, please bring back QA.