Microsoft is not "stepping away" from core games, according to Chris Lewis, Microsoft's VP of the Interactive Entertainment Business in Europe. He does admit, however, that Kinect's launch games will be designed to appeal to a wide audience (read: casual).
"Certainly over the launch phase and this Christmas in particular I think you'll see very much pure Kinect for 360 experiences that will appeal to the broad young/older/female/family audiences I described earlier," he told GI.biz in an interview posted yesterday.
Above: Lots of this to come, at least early in Kinect's life
He continued, "I'll say again, at the risk of sounding like a cracked record, that doesn't in any way, shape or form represent us stepping away from the core - which is why, during the press conference at E3 for example, we spent a good solid chunk of time around Halo Reach, Gears of War and Fable. And there will be more coming from us, and our third party partners."
Granted, they also spent a hell of a lot of time trying to make Kinect look like a secret alien technology discovered in a Mayan pyramid.
Above: LOL KINECT
But if we suspend our cynicism for a moment: early Kinect-only experiences will be casual, which we already knew, but it sounds like it's business as usual for the controller-based franchises we all love. So what were we so worried about? If we don't like Kinectimals we can just ignore the whole system, right? We'll see. Lewis went on to say that hybrid control schemes which utilize a combination of physical movements and traditional controllers will be here within 18 months.
"[Will] we see more of these hybrid experiences coming, where you can complement what might ostensibly be a controller-based experience with gestures, voice and physical movement? Yes, I think that will come. I think there's an overlap there, a logical and a good one.
Again, without compromising on the experience, making sure it's incremental and generally advantageous to the experience, then you'll see those types of experiences coming over time. And therefore I think all of the different types of gaming experiences you describe will become available over the coming 18 months or so."
Above: After Reach (pictured), Halo will be developed internally by Microsoft - will the first post-Bungie Halo include MS mandated Kinect functionality?
I don't entirely trust the part about not compromising the experience, because, for me, waving my arms around always compromises the experience. And how would it even work - would we put the controller down to interact with Kinect, then pick it back up again? All that aside, however, I think we can still be optimistic.
The Wii is a system based entirely on motion control, so developers haven't had much of a choice - it's either work in the Wiimote's motion-sensing functionality, or try to brush off years of Nintendo's "motion, motion, motion" marketing campaign and tell gamers to hold their controllers sideways. Kinect and Move, however, are peripherals. Even if, in 18 months, the next Halo uses voice commands and hand gestures, the addition probably won't be fundamental to the gameplay. For gamers who aren't interested in Kinect Sports or party games, Kinect may simply be an optional way to add a bit of physical flare to games. That's my hope, at least.
In related news, while Microsoft may not be stepping away from hardcore gamers, Kinect players may need to step away from their TVs. According to Amazon.com's Kinect pre-order page, you'll need "6 feet between you and your television for play space." Try to find that in a San Francisco apartment!
The stipulation is dubious, however. We've definitely seen Kinect games played with less than six feet, and we imagine this is just a suggested play space - wouldn't want anyone tripping over a coffee table and suing, right?
Jul 21, 2010