Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Console Post (Supplemental): Kinect Pricing And Microsoft's Motivation

From Chris Kohler and Game|Life:
Microsoft will sell Kinect for $150 this fall, making the camera-based motion controller — which promises to turn videogaming into a full-body experience — the most expensive standard-issue peripheral on the market.

Kinect, an Xbox 360 add-on that uses cameras and voice recognition to transform the way players interact with games, will come bundled with Kinect Adventures, the company said Tuesday...Kinect, formerly known as Project Natal, will be released Nov. 4 and will work with existing Xbox 360 consoles.

$149 with a pack-in game. Again, I think there are serious value proposition issues here. I can spend $149 for an accessory, or I can spend $50 more and get a Wii, Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, and MotionPlus? Who's going to want Kinect instead?

Yes, I understand that Kinect can work with more than one player. People seem remarkably unable to understand those kind of "value add" propositions, though--they go by the price on the box.

Plus, and I think this is going to be a real problem for Microsoft, Kinect's being marketed as "unlimited" control, but as I wrote two weeks ago, it's actually quite limited--in almost all games, apparently, players will have to stand up to play.

If you're wondering WTF is going on here, so was I, but I think this quote (and other recent ones like it) gives us a clue:
“$150 is an appropriate price for the Kinect,” said Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich in an emailed statement. “Kinect should not be viewed as a typical video game peripheral that is retired from one’s active playlist after 90 days, but rather a consumer enabling device that has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with all forms of media on a daily basis.”

That's not an analyst talking--that's Microsoft talking with its fingers in the back of a hand puppet. He's just regurgitating what Microsoft has been saying for weeks, although "consumer enabling device" is an entirely new level of bullshit.

As ridiculous as that phrase is, though, it's useful.

It's useful because it tells us how Microsoft is positioning this device: this is a Trojan Horse for a remote control. Yes, I laughed out loud while I typed that, because it sounds so ridiculous, but that appears to be what's happening. Microsoft envisions Kinect as a replacement for our remote controls.

Wait, I think I feel a slogan coming on: One awkward gesture to rule them all.

Here's how this works (in Microsoft's mind, at least):
1. People buy Kinect for gaming
2. They fall in love with its unicorn shitting abilities
3. Because of #2, they try Xbox Live's video on demand.
4. Akward gestures can control this video. Yay!
4. Blu-Ray needs a remote. There's nothing unicorn about that.
5. The PS3 is never used again.
6. Kinect rules the living room. Yay!

In one blunt stroke of pantomime, performed repeatedly until it registers correctly, Microsoft owns the living room.


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