Kinect unfortunately(?) has a chance

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here, but I personally consider myself a sort of motion control aficionado and as such have been gearing up to tackle the big comparison of the three controllers.

Thus far the Wiimote was the biggest disappointment of my life and could barely even be considered a motion controller. The MotionPlus was rudimentary but a massive improvement over the standard Wiimote.  The Move, however, was a dream come true with pinpoint accuracy that adds amazing depth to games.

The Kinect, however, is once I’ve been on the fence about. While the concept looks impressive, trying to swing a sword without holding something in your hand feels odd. Not to mention buttons are more important than you realize, even in motion control (as Sony has so handily pointed out). Then there’s the whole question of how well it works as the Kinect isn’t too far removed from an EyeToy. With every report on it claiming it to be laggy and inaccurate, the Kinect was definitely looking to be the biggest waste of money in gaming history.

However, a video from the Home Shopping Network has gotten me thinking. I know it’s painful to watch, but just watch a couple minutes and you’ll see what I mean:

There’s some pretty impressive things going on here at first glance. Notice how the system tracks the mother and daughter clasping their hands together or how  people can jump into and out of the raft? That’s pretty neat.

Of course if you pay attention you’ll notice significant amounts of lag, brief moments where on-screen characters glitch out, and general inaccuracies. In short it confirms everything we’ve already heard: The Kinect is laggy and inaccurate.

But that doesn’t make the stuff mentioned before any less impressive! Basically what I’m saying is that the Kinect is looking to be the ultimate gimmicky gadget. For those first 15 minutes it’s the most amazing thing, like stepping into the future. After those 15 minutes you realize it can’t really do much else though and is limited to basic mini-games, but by that point it no longer matters, Microsoft has your money.

Which brings us to the clincher: the 4 gig bundle. Normally the $150 price of the Kinect is way too high (though Rock Band 3 with a Keyboard was $130). However, Microsoft is selling a bundle of a 4gig slim 360 and Kinect together for $300 (Home Shopping Network was overpricing it). That’s right in the sweet spot! Yeah it costs more than a Wii, but it’s also more impressive and that extra $100 seems justified! What’s more, it seems impressive enough that existing Wii owners may want one.

Mind you this is a 4 gig slim we’re talking about. The slims have built-in harddrives that cannot be replaced or upgraded and 4 gigs is way too little space for a 360. In essence it’s a useless 360. However, that ultimately doesn’t matter because the customer will be sick of it after 15 minutes anyway and 4 gigs is just enough for 15 minutes!

As such the Kinect may, unfortunately, have a chance. However, I did just realize a snag: Microsoft generally loses money on every 360 made due to selling them for less, right? Are they making any money off these Kinect bundles? Because if not, if these bundles are still costing them money, then this could be an even bigger bungle! As I just said, I don’t see people staying interested in the Kinect after 15 minutes and as such they probably won’t buy any games for it. As such, if Microsoft isn’t actually making money off the bundle sales, this could end up costing them even more!

Well it’s only a week away so time will tell.

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