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E3 2010 has been absolutely huge for Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) so far, especially with the announcement of Microsoft Kinect [formerly known as "Project Natal"] and the "red-ring proof" Xbox 360 Slim. Microsoft spared no dime in planning the press conference, which incorporated an interpretive dance from Cirque Du Soleil and saw everyone in the audience receiving an Xbox Slim for free. Naturally, the audience was highly profiled and was consisted of selected members of the press, analysts and numerous bloggers.
The Microsoft Kinect accessory incorporates full body motion-sensing technology along with voice recognition to create a more interactive video game experience. Unlike the Wii or Sony (NYSE: SNE ) PlayStation 3 motion controls, Kinect does not utilize an actual controller. Instead, the built-in camera senses your movements and translates them into your character's movements on screen, eliminating the need to clutch a controller.
Interestingly enough, Microsoft has decided to incorporate motion sensing into the dashboard of the 360 as well, allowing users to simply use their hand to select between channels. This, combined with voice recognition controls, allows for extremely intuitive navigation of the 360. One part of the demo saw a boy pausing his Netflix streaming by saying, "Xbox, pause," much to the dismay of his mom and sister. Video chatting is also supported through Kinect, allowing Xbox users the ability to conference with their friends.
With the games announced with Kinect, it's clear that Microsoft is aiming to take the wind out of Nintendo's sales. Kinect Sports and Your Shape target Wii Sports and Wii Fit, respectively, by offering updated technology and game play along with crisper HD graphics. While some of the announced games may be unoriginal, there is no shortage of potential with the other titles. Kinect Adventures sees players riding a raft through a chaotic canyon, forcing them to lean right or left in order to select paths and stay balanced. Joy Ride is a Mario Kart-esque racer that has gamers steering by holding out their hands in the shape of a wheel. Star Wars Kinect, the most ambitious title, seemed to attract the most crowd attention at E3. Players wield a light saber with two hands, slicing Stormtroopers and deflecting laser blasts with the movement of their arms. One game took photos of the players' reactions during the game, and presented an embarrassing slideshow of candid snaps at the end. Though some of the initial games may seem contrived and unintuitive, Kinect has the ability to ultimately revolutionize motion gaming, if given the proper developer attention and funding.
While Microsoft did not announce a price at their E3 conference, many online retailers, like Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) and GameStop (NYSE: GME ) , have posted Kinect as available on November 4th, with a price of $150. While the date is confirmed, Microsoft has claimed that the prices are not yet solidified. Kinect will hit stores this fall with 15 launch titles, which are as follows in no particular order:
- Kinect Adventures
- Kinect Joy Ride
- Kinect Sports
- Dance Central
- Your Shape: Fitness Evolved
- EA Sports Active 2
- Deca Sports Freedom
- Dance Masters
- Adrenalin Misfits
- Zumba Fitness
- Sonic Free Riders
- The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout
- Motion Sports
- Game Party: In Motion
There is also a great demo of the upcoming Ubisoft game using Kinect that will be sure to garner some attention.
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