Today, in several territories, the new Kinect-less Xbox One SKU went on sale at a slightly reduced price at several retailers. As this also coincided with the first day of E3 and Microsoft’s Xbox media briefing, we thought that we might hear about what the company plans for the future of the little black box now that it’s not going to be bundled with every Xbox One console sold. But, surprisingly there was almost no mention of the Kinect, as if Microsoft are trying to sweep the issue under the rug and not draw attention to it.
Perhaps this was due to the company’s newly adopted stance of focusing on the games first, but it would have been nice for them to reassure the current owners of the Kinect that there’s still a reason to keep it plugged in and not flog it on eBay or use it as a doorstop. Or, maybe the underwhelming reception of Kinect Sports Rivals took the wind out of their sails in regards to supporting big budget first party Kinect games. Out of the games shown on stage, the segment featuring newly announced Dance Central: Spotlight and the upcoming Fantasia: Music Evolved games from Harmonix was the only time the Kinect was even mentioned. Even SWERY65’S D4 game which was supposed to use Kinect’s voice and motion features was given a few seconds from a cutscene in a montage right at the end of the event.
Almost since the console was first announced, Microsoft has gradually been distancing itself from the Kinect and backpedaling on their initial vision of having the Kinect an integral part of the Xbox One experience. Even if Microsoft doesn’t seem to be showing a lot of Kinect exclusives, it seems at least a couple developers are still working on bringing interesting uses of the Kinect for motion controlled gaming.
A brief glimpse of indie title, Fru, from Through Games features a side scrolling platformer, where you control the character with the controller and alter the environment using your body’s shilloute via the Kinect. Being able to interact with the Kinect sensor while simultaneously using the controller looks like it could make for a unique gaming experience.
Ubisoft’s press event also debuted another Kinect title, Shape Up, which seems to be what fitness games would be like if they were more like an actual game and less like a tool or utility. Using the Kinect, you take part in several super-colorful and stylized mini games where you play by preforming exercises like squats, push ups and more. The above trailer features one game that’s almost like DDR and has you stepping in beat with the music. From what’s shown so far, this looks like it could be a fun way to work out in your home with the Kinect. The latest installment of the Just Dance series also made an appearance in Ubisoft’s event, including the announcement of players being able to use their smartphones as a control method, suggesting the Kinect may not even be needed if you have a phone handy.
It’s still early on in the show and hopefully some more Kinect games will appear on the show floor or be announced in the near future. Now that people have the choice to not get the Kinect, they’re going to need to give consumers a good reason to pick one up, lest it be relegated to the bargain bin between uDraw tablets and Wonderbooks.