Microsoft has set a $149.99 price for its new controller-less Kinect video-game controller, or $299.99 with a new Xbox 360. Microsoft also promised 15 games for the Kinect when it goes on sale Nov. 4. The revolutionary Kinect uses a camera to detect body movement and is likely to challenge Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s Move controller.
Microsoft has announced pricing for Kinect, its highly anticipated, controller-less game controller — $149.99, including a game called Kinect Adventures. When packaged with a new Xbox 360, which comes with 4GB of internal memory, the price is $299.99.
Some industry observers are describing Kinect’s pricing as high, while others suggest such a revolutionary peripheral could have been priced higher.
‘You Are the Controller’
The company said Kinect Adventures offers 20 adventures that take advantage of the new controller, including roaring rapids and mountain obstacle courses. The new Xbox 360 4GB console, with Wi-Fi N, touch-sensitive buttons, and a black matte finish, can be purchased by itself for $199.99. The controller works with any existing Xbox 360.
When Kinect goes on sale Nov. 4, Microsoft said, there will be 15 games specifically designed for Kinect, including Kinectimals, Kinect Sports, Kinect Joy Ride, and MTV Games’ and Harmonix’s Dance Central.
The Kinect controller, formerly code-named Project Natal, could radically redefine user control for video games and other devices. It reads players’ body movements and recognizes certain speech commands, turning movements and commands into actions or characters on the screen.
As Microsoft has said, “You are the controller.”
To see a ball, the company said, you just kick it, hit it, or catch it. To start a movie, the user only needs to say “Xbox, play,” and browsing through a music list can be accomplished by a hand wave.
Kinect employs a video camera that tracks the body, plus a monochrome camera that determines the distance between your body and the game console. There’s also a specialized microphone for receiving voice commands, and, of course, highly customized software for managing it all.
‘No Wheel at All’
“What Microsoft is doing,” none other than Hollywood director Stephen Spielberg said at Kinect’s announcement, “is not about reinventing the wheel — it’s about no wheel at all.”
Michael Gartenberg, a partner and analyst at the Altimeter Group, said he had “been hoping Kinect would be priced at something like $99.” Since it comes bundled with a game that would otherwise cost $50, he said, the price is “acceptable.”
He also noted that Kinect can handle more than one player simultaneously, so it’s actually a multiple controller.
At this point, Gartenberg said, “Microsoft is definitely ahead of the competition,” which includes Nintendo’s once-innovative motion controller for its Wii, and Sony’s new Move controller.
Sony has described its Move controller as bringing a new degree of precision to motion-control game play, although it still requires a handheld peripheral. Coupled with the Sony Eye camera, the new controller is scheduled for release in North America in October and will cost about $130, including the game Sports Champions.
“Right now,” Gartenberg said, “the Xbox is extremely well-positioned to start capturing the hearts and minds of people beyond the hard-core gamers.”