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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Project Natal Renamed to Spark Energy

     With the announcement that Microsoft's Project Natal controller system has been renamed the Kinect, and will go on sale in November of this year(the fourth to be precise), all I can say is that it stinks of been-there-done-that.
     And I don't just mean the whole motion control aspect of it either.  The whole marketing campaign, the technology used to achieve this project, and the hype they are trying to throw in about how much this will revolutionize gaming.  Nintendo and Sony have all done this before, and the XBox 360 is so late in the game to get around to it, and at such a higher price point, that I can only see it failing.  I mean, come on, renaming the project publicly just prior to its release?  Nintendo did that when they changed the name of the revolution to the Wii.  It wasn't because they thought that Wii was a better name, but because they knew it would bring a lot more hype to the a system that game developers were starting to lose interest in.  While it seems that developers really have been losing interest in Project Natal, the sort of naming trick Nintendo used usually works a single time.
     As to the technology; all it is is a web cam, that's all.  What should be touted as the impressive part is the motion sensing software, but from what I've been able to read about on the web, even that didn't make a great showing at E3.  Here is where the problem is with motion control being tied to a camera come in; the camera has to be able to see you!  Now I know I'm going to hear complaints about how the sensor bar in the Wii has to see you too, but that is a fallacy.  Only one aspect of the Wii remote is based on the sensor bar, and that is the screen pointer.  And none of Sony's PS3 motion aspects are attributed to a sensor of any sort.  Heck, with both these systems, thanks to wireless technologies like Bluetooth, most of the controller functions can be performed from behind the TV if you wanted too.  So in that respect, I see a major failing.
     And the one thing I can not ignore is Microsoft's track record with hardware.  Zune anyone?  And when was the last time you purchased a decent keyboard or mouse from Microsoft?  What about joysticks?  If any of you can relate with me, these are all places where Microsoft tried to move their way in and failed.  They suck at hardware.  So why would this be any different.  Even the Xbox 360 is an example of Microsoft's failure with hardware.  When was the last time you heard of a game company that had to shell out 1 billion dollars for an extension to the hardware warranty on a console they built?  I have never heard of one.
     So, as it stands, I put my personal mark on this Kinect as something that will fail to generate force for Microsoft's dieing entertainment division.  Farewell to Microsoft in the home as a multimedia staple.