My thoughts on the Xbox One Kinect 2.0

So I was just watching a Review Tech USA video. In fact it was this one (Although I’m not discussing the content of the video):

And I found myself writing a very lengthy reply to a comment which was unfairly criticizing the Kinect 2.0 and Microsoft’s decision to box in a peripheral. So I decided that since I run a video game blog that I’d scrap that and just write up my thoughts here. Now we really need to throw our fanboy goggles out the door when discussing this. I’m writing this not as  Nintendo fanboy but as a video game fan who likes Nintendo games. If you still think Sony ‘won’ e3 this summer by offering to not take away services you already had with your ps3, then it’s time to stop reading. If that even got you flared up a tiny bit then you really should consider your position. It’s become far too taboo to say anything positive about Microsoft or criticize Sony in anyway (and the norm to ignore Nintendo or say they’re doomed). I won’t be adhering to these unwritten rules here and if that upsets you then by all means there are plenty of articles that disagree with me, go read one of them.

Now of course these are just my thoughts; I change my mind very frequently but I think I’ve been as fair as possible here. A key thing to note is that this is all down to my own personal experiences and I’ve obviously based conclusions off of them and nothing else besides what I gather from discussing these things with people in various forums (A big shout out to PE) and just observing other peoples input across articles and Youtube etc.

So there’s been a lot of criticism over the fact that the Kinect 2.0 comes bundled with every Xbox One. I just want to put aside the stuff about security i.e Microsoft selling your Skype chats to the government and consider the product. Even putting them things aside many have said that Microsoft should be selling the Kinect 2.0 as an add on. Most of them citing the original Kinect (1.0?) and related games as enough proof that it (the 2.0) will be a bad product. I couldn’t disagree more with that projection. I say that even though I didn’t really enjoy the Kinect experience myself. Allow me to explain myself.

So I really feel that having a boxed peripheral is just a completely different ball game to an optional add on. With an add on like kinect (1.0) or psmove or the wii balance board, games were made exclusively for them. What did this mean? It meant that developers really had to have the experience ABOUT using the peripheral. So If you’ve played a kinect game you know you’re going to be standing up and jumping around etc. If you’re playing with the psmove or the balance board, you’re more than likely going to be using that peripheral for a large percentage of the associated games. Also, since the peripheral was an add-on this meant that developers could not assume that every Xbox player owned a Kinect, so integrating it was a risk and thus not done. So it was not enough to just have some light use; The idea was that these people bought this peripheral so let’s make them games that take advantage of it. And we all know how it ended up. The peripherals eventually lost support and people regretted their purchase as a result and wrote them off as gimicky peripherals even though it was just gimmicky usage. This is the usual pattern with add on peripherals.

But now (for example) let’s consider the case of the Wii U; The gamepad comes with every system boxed in. This means developers can consider it and use it only when necessary and sparingly. So it never becomes a gamepad experience so much as an experience that can be complemented by the gamepad. I’ve played games that have you never really use the gamepad at all (New Super Mario Bros.), to some light integration (Pikmin 3) and then games with some heavier gamepad focus like Nintendo Land. And to be honest I think it works out really well this way. Every developer knows for certain that a Wii U owner has a gamepad so that puts every developer in the position to say “Ok, so what will we do with this” and then it can be used in any way, even not at all.

I think a good article that backs up my case for the Kinect 2.0 here is Rare’s (Who developed a tonne of Kinect games) discussion on the topic. You can read the full article here (It’s quite short):

http://ie.ign.com/articles/2013/08/23/rare-considering-revisiting-classic-franchises-using-kinect

A key line is when asked when asked about the possibility of a Perfect Dark game is the response

“Maybe! We’ve got an idea for that. It would be controller plus Kinect”. Hopefully meaning the Kinect 2.0 could compliment the experience and not be the focus.

I mean I’m not even a developer but I can think of plenty of ways the Kinect 2.0 peripheral can be used sparingly, intuitively and most of all in a fun manner to really compliment what we know as the standard experience. So surely the developers, who are supposed to be creative people can come up with ideas? It’s worrying if they can’t.

So where does this put us? Well to be dead honest we’re still not in a great position. Again, let’s consider the gamepad. When Nintendo revealed the Wii U and it’s gamepad we had plenty of footage showing off the unique gameplay experiences it can offer. From Nintendo Land to Zombi U demos and footage, there was plenty there for the gamer to see. And I think the gamepad has already proved itself with the Wii U’s first year coming to a close. But what has Microsoft shown us? All I’ve seen are test footage showing off how the kinect can register certain movements etc but there has been no actual kinect integrated gameplay footage.  For now how I envision the Kinect 2.0 use is just that, a vision. The potential is there, but ultimately Microsoft really need to bring out games that prove to the customer that this really is something that can compliment the experience. I want to see proof.

I really do firmly believe that a boxed peripheral can open up infinitely many more fresh gameplay experiences for a console and for the reasons above that the Kinect 2.0 has that potential. Most of all that it’s not fair to dismiss it based on its predecessor. Does having peripheral integration make every game more fun? No, I’m not saying that. Games can still use the ‘standard’ controller and still be innovative. But honestly I’m NEVER against the idea of trying something new. And this is what Microsoft is doing. They are trying to integrate a peripheral to the experience. Who wants to be the one to discourage an attempt at innovation? Not me. And with all things considered I just don’t think an eye camera with a ps4 constitutes as the same proposition. If I was to get a ps4 I’d give the eye camera a complete miss to be honest, again because of my feelings on add-ons.

I’ve had enough of being told I shouldn’t be interested in the Xbox One or seeing every new Xbox One video disliked and down voted and flooded with troll BS because of that taboo. The line up and hardware are more interesting to me than the ps4. If somebody else feels that way then leave them alone. Innocent comments like “This game looks great” can get slaughtered if it’s directed at an XO game. Should everyone go out and buy an Xbox One? Nope, buy whatever you’re interested in. Should you shut the fuck up about the Xbox One if you’re not interested in it? Yup you should.

Alright, I think I’ve said everything I wanted to say.

-Tim Out.

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3 thoughts on “My thoughts on the Xbox One Kinect 2.0

  1. You’re right. I think it’s definitely important to consider that companies want to make money, so when they make games they’re hoping it will bring them a nice profit. If a company makes a game that requires a peripheral which does not come with the console then it is going to make it harder to make money because people have to go buy this other thing (or have bought it already) in order to play the game.

    Obviously the number of people with the peripheral will always be less than the number of people with the console if the peripheral is not included and as such this discourages developers from working with accessory devices (as a requirement for the game, at least). So you’re going to have fewer games with a non-included peripheral as an integral part of the gameplay and since this severely limits the number of games which make use of the peripheral it reduces its value as an accessory in the eyes of the consumer; vicious circle.

    This is where things like the Wii and XBone change the game. With the Wii every developer knew they could make use of motion controls as the primary control system (if they wished) without making the customer buy another device like Playstation Move. This meant, of course, that there was potential for many games that simply couldn’t be made (at least as effectively, or profitably) on other consoles. The XBone has the same sort of potential. But whether this will sway enough people to buy it over the cheaper PS4 is questionable and if ends up with a tiny market share the potential of the Kinect 2.0 will never be fully realised.

    • I don’t really think it will sway anyone over from the ps4. Microsoft have not shown any reason why the consumer needs it. So at least for launch of both the ps4 sales (complete speculation) will be much much better than the Xbox One’s. I can see people getting a ps4 who are even more interested in Xbox games (or at least have been up until this point) simply because they see the Kinect as a waste and can’t justify the extra money incl. me; If when Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts come out they haven’t proved it has a purpose. Even at that, the extra 100 is just nudging at me. The potential’s there. That’s all I’m saying. I think it would have been madness to develop it and then not box it and let it drift off into obscurity with weak support and games that focus far too heavily on using it. Just me thoughts doe baiz.

      • You’re probably right on that. Looks like the PS4 is set to crush the XBone sales-wise this Christmas. You know, they were originally planning on including the Playstation Camera with the PS4, but they dumped it to cut costs (and make sure they undercut Microsoft). Who knows is the Xbox can ever recover from the rocky start? If it doesn’t we won’t see everything the Kinect can do.

        Price matters to people; we saw it this gen with the PS3’s ridiculous launch price which really hurt sales and on the other hand the massive sales of the Wii. Another example would be the DS versus the PSP and so on. Plenty of examples of price being the deciding factor rather than strength of hardware.

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