Microsoft's Kinect-ified E3 Focus is Leaving Gamers Out in the Cold

Is Microsoft giving up on actual game development outside of Kinect?

By , Contributor

In Mass Effect 3 you can activate the franchise's familiar dialogue trees via Kinect. You'll actually say the lines out loud, the Kinect sensor picking up on your voice and responding almost immediately. This, according to Microsoft at their E3 press conference, is some type of spectacular advancement... except it's not. At all.

In fact, Konami released a game called Lifeline on the PlayStation 2 where not only did you converse with the lead character, you controlled her through the PS2 microphone. It's not impossible, some games on the Xbox 360 even allowing voice commands over the headset such as EndWar. The Kinect changes nothing other than your need to yell at the screen louder for it to pick you up.

As it was for almost everything Microsoft pushed using their fancy camera, nothing seemed new, fresh, or innovative. Everything, from crafting a custom weapon in Ghost Recon to scanning the redesigned "with Kinect in mind" dashboard with your hands, would not only be more precise with a controller, it would be less tiring.


However while much the video game community seems to want change and innovation, we're also a community of players who are slow to adapt. In this case though, there's a clear sign that the Kinect isn't working, at least in terms of actual gaming applications. This isn't just routine fear.

What they did show which provided true potential was object scanning, the idea that you can scan the front and back of any object with the Kinect, turning it into a useable, in-game 3D model. Kinect can even recognize you, turning your face and clothing into an instant Avatar. Those features are available now through Kinect Labs, and show about the only promise coming from the device.

It's a come to a point, this now being the second year in a row with the motion control focus, where Microsoft is slowly moving away from the games. They use third party software to open their show, in this case Modern Warfare 3 and Tomb Raider, to excite the audience. These are not games that sell hardware, or at least the Xbox 360 specifically. The PS3 would suffice as well. When they do offer something exclusive, they use their singular yearly showcase to do nothing that the community asked for, or something that's been done before.

It's tiring, and as much as things IPTV or Dance Central may be pushing hardware into the home, you have to wonder is the actual game playtime is being eroded? If that's the case, where's the incentive from Microsoft's camp to push anything other than endless Halo and Gears of War sequels? Microsoft failed to introduce a single new non-Kinect based IP at their E3 presser. What does that say about them as a gaming company? Not much.

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Matt Paprocki is a 13-year veteran of the video game, movie, and home media scene. He has written thousands of reviews, has been published on a variety of websites, and contributes his thoughts daily on a diverse range of topics.

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