Are the Vita and Kinect Dead?

Published 9 months ago by

Are Vita and Kinect Dead

Let us take you back to the year 2010, when the future looked so bright for motion control technology. Microsoft was riding high on the potential of Kinect, their new peripheral that was going to take motion control gaming and push it into the future. In fact, Microsoft believed so strongly that Kinect was an important pillar of their company that they created a special pre-E3 event dedicated solely to the device.

Now let’s move forward to present day where it’s a completely different picture. E3 2014 has come and gone, as has Gamescom 2014, and Microsoft has not just pushed Kinect out of the spotlight they’ve practically put it in a corner. And we’re not talking about the same clunky Kinect from 2010 either; this is the Xbox One’s Kinect, a more refined version of the motion control device.

So, why in just four years has Microsoft pulled a 180 on Kinect? The answer isn’t entirely clear, but there’s no mistaking that something has changed. It could have been the fact that Microsoft forced the device on gamers with the Xbox One bundle, and those gamers in turn shunned Xbox. Or it could be that a new regime has taken over Microsoft’s Xbox division, and they don’t believe that motion control gaming is the future. Either way, what was once a pillar of Xbox is now barely a lean-to.

Kinect Fun Labs E3 2011

Granted, there are still some Kinect games in development — namely Fantasia: Music Evolved — but E3 and Gamescom proved that Microsoft’s opinions have changed and they don’t have much to show for the device. Where prior press conferences for those events used to be at least 50% Kinect, that total was brought down to a measly 5%… if that. The biggest Kinect-related of news of 2014 was that Microsoft was removing the device from Xbox One bundles.

But perhaps there’s something bigger at play. Perhaps it’s not just Microsoft who is completely changing their line of thinking, but Sony as well. Just take a look at the PS Vita — a handheld that, like the Kinect, used to be a pillar of its publisher’s press conference. This year it was also almost non-existent.

Sure, they were some mentions of Vita at E3 and Gamescom, but only as an also-ran. Most of the “new” games announced for Vita were titles that are either currently available on or coming to PS3 and PS4 as well, or that were previously released on another platform (PC, Xbox, etc.). No new games, no new features. Nothing.

Vita as PS4 Controller

And so, like with the Kinect, we’re left wondering whether Sony has pulled the plug on their Vita experiment. Have they realized that Nintendo dominates the handheld market and decided it best not to waste any more money? Or maybe they are so happy with PS4 sales that they think Remote Play will be enough to push Vita sales all by itself.

Interestingly enough, it’s most likely the recent unveiling of the PS4, and the Xbox One as well, that has changed Sony and Microsoft’s line of thinking. Now that there are new consoles on the market, it’s up to these companies to win back their old fan bases and entice new gamers towards their systems. Where the established install bases of the PS3 and Xbox 360 encouraged experimentation, like a goofy motion controller or an expensive handheld, this new generation is not as conducive to risk-taking. Just ask Microsoft – who took a risk with DRM, lost favor among gamers, and lost an edge in the console war.

Unfortunately, for those early adopters of Vita and Kinect this new line of thinking leaves them out in the cold. No one likes to find out that the device they spent hundreds of dollars on is dead, especially not when they were initially promised so much. But that’s what we’re looking at right now, two devices that still have their uses but are currently showing few signs of life. Admittedly things are looking better for the Vita as they are some games coming to the device, but it’s slim pickings regardless. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if, come E3 2015, many gamers forgot that Vita and Kinect even existed.

Do you think that Sony and Microsoft have abandoned the Vita and Kinect? What do you think they could do to turn things around?

Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina

TAGS: Kinect, Microsoft, Sony, Vita, Xbox One

  • Hexx

    I don’t think they are dead. Their respective companies just can’t find a place with them. Xbox continues to use the Kinect for little things and there are still games coming out on the Vita.

    • John Jacques

      Kinect on the Xbox One has made me a lazy, lazy man when it comes to going to Netflix or signing in. Agree with you 100% that it’s mostly used for little things.

      FIFA 2014 utilizes it pretty well, too. Making substitutions and changing tactical mentalities on the fly via Kinect is a nice touch.

      • DeafAtheist

        I don’t see it as laziness… it’s incredibly useful as it makes things move a lot faster. It takes longer to press the Xbox Home button then click on Netflix in your pins (assumimg you have it pinned otherwise it will take even more clicks to go to Games & Apps then Netflix) than it does to just say “Xbox Go to Netflix”. The voice controls are much more responsive than they were with the 360’s Kinect. I find it rare to need shout at it like a misbehaving pet the way I had to with the 360’s to get it to respond. Many times I can just voice a command in a normal tone of voice and it will respond but then I’m a deaf gamer so I don’t use my TV with sound unless my son is using it so that might make a difference since the Xbox doesn’t have to try to hear me over the sound of game or TV/movie sounds.

        I HATED the 360’s Kinect but I LOVE the Xbox One’s I could not imagine my console without it.

  • dethfuse

    I’m not sure about the kinect since i bought the kinect-less xbo but i can say that the Vita is far from dead. It’s certainly not doing as well as the 3ds but there are still plenty of games coming to it.

    • DeafAtheist

      Buying the Xbox without a Kinect you’re missing out on a lot of the console’s best features… the instant switching… the automatic sign in… being able to quickly record the last 30 seconds of gameplay by saying “Xbox Record That” without having to stop playing to snap the Game DVR… Being able to Skype chat while playing… broadcasting your self while streaming on Twitch… etc. There’s a very good reason why the Kinect had an 80% install base before Microsoft unbundled it.

      Microsoft was forced to unbundle it becuase people were buying PS4s instead of Xbox Ones due to Kinect being bundled but that’s before even giving the new Kinect a chance. The Xbox 360’s Kinect was indeed a useless waste of money, but the same isn’t true of the new Kinect. It’s actually useful for other things besides playing Dance Central that every gamer can appreciate. So of those that bought the Xbox One’s before Microsoft unbundled the Kinect there is an 80% install base. I’d be willing to be that most of the remaining 20% didn’t even give it a chance and just left it in the box.

      • cidgrad

        Like most Kinect Defenders, you are totally missing the point. This junk was marketed as something unique to enhance gaming. In reality, it’s a glorified microphone. Most people balk at the idea of paying $100 extra just for voice commands or Skype, especially when they aren’t allowed to choose their own hardware.

        You’re stuck with this shite plastic brick and are trying to make the most of it, which is fine. Just stop trying to convince the rest of us we need to waste our money on it. Even Microsoft has stopped doing that now.

        • DeafAtheist

          I’m not “missing the point”. It’s not Microsoft’s fault that the Kinect hasn’t “enhanced gaming” because due to low interest in their console with the Kinect bundled they were forced to forego their original vision for the Kinect. Their original vision had 100% install base so more gaming applications could in fact be used. Developers used to be required to reserve something like 10% of the console’s processing power for Kinect applications. They had the choice whether or not to use that 10% for Kinect applications if they opted not to use it then it just wouldn’t get used at all.

          Since few gamers gave Microsoft a chance to let their new Kinect shine they were forced to change their priorities. So it’s because of Xbox 360 owners that upgraded to PS4 or held out of a version of the console that didn’t get bundled with the Kinect that the Kinect has been unable to live up to Microsoft’s original vision for it.

          What the Kinect can do could not be done with a microphone and camera. A microphone does not have voice recognition software. A regular camera can’t track motion. So whining about not being able to choose your own hardware is idiotic because there IS no other kind of hardware like the Kinect. It cost Microsoft nearly as much as the console to develop. That’s how much tech is in that “shite plastic brick”.

          Gamers who wanted the Kinect to be more only have themselves to blame for not supporting the hardware. Developers just won’t do it unless there’s an install base for it. Which there was before Microsoft was forced to unbundle it. It had an 80% install base before it was unbundled but few gamers gave it a chance and decided to get PS4s instead of Xbox Ones. Microsoft was forced by gamers to unbundle the Kinect just to be competitive. You can’t have it both ways. Either the kinect has to have at least a 75% install base or deveopers just won’t support the hardware. They aren’t going to put the money into something that only a small percentage of gamers are going to buy or use.

          • cidgrad

            Are you kidding me? No wonder you have “deaf” in your name. Why do you think there was “low interest” in the new Kinect in the first place, genius? Because the original Kinect sucked @ss and never delivered on anything Microsoft said it would do. Not even the voice commands you are so in love with, as you’ve already noted. I’d say that makes it 100% MS’s fault that the vast majority of consumers didn’t say, “OH BOY! KINECT 2 IS HERE!”

            My point about the webcam, which you most definitely missed, is that none of the activities you listed in your above comment require anything more than a simple webcam. You don’t need motion tracking to Skype. And I had no idea the Kinect has an advanced, future-tech microphone. If so, since the main thing anyone seems to use the entire Kinect for is voice commands, maybe MS should have released an OPTIONAL mic-only peripheral for much less than $100? But no, they can’t do that. It’s beyond them to consider smart ways to make money which don’t treat consumers like slack-jawed idiots.

            Look: MS promised people a flying car which didn’t fly and barely even ran. Then they announced a new version that was more expensive than the competition. You blame the customers for balking at that? Whatever, dude. Have fun with Dance-Dance Station 5 and Kinectimals 2. I hear you can use voice commands to start them. It’s A-MAZ-ING!

        • DeafAtheist

          Oh… and I’m not “trying to make the most of it” because I’m “stuck with it”. I love the Xbox One’s Kinect and if my Kinect were to break somehow I would buy another one as soon as Microsoft makes them available to buy separately. I would not want to use my Xbox One without it.

          • cidgrad

            You know what? I believe you.

        • DeafAtheist

          Apparently you’re incapable of making an intelligent argument about something without resorting to personal attacks regarding a person’s disability. Reall mature douche.

          The original kinect did NOT fall short of Microsoft’s promises. It simply didn’t live up to gamer expectations. Despite that it was quite popular with the casual gaming community that likes motion controlled games. If it wasn’t profitable there wouldn’t have been so many sequels to games like Dance Central. The original Kinect was indeed quite popular with casual gamers. It just didn’t hold any interest to hardcore gamers because there were no real applications for voice control and motion tracking for us that made it a worthwhile addition to our gaming system.

          But no, I don’t expect gamers to be excited about the new Kinect. I wasn’t excited about it either. Those of us that supported Microsoft with the new Kinect were cautiously optimistic. Instead of whining about what the original Kinect wasn’t like a bunch of self-entitled brats we saw it for it’s potential for what it COULD be. THAT is why we supported Microsoft’s vision for Kinect even though we didn’t have any use for or much like the original Kinect. We saw the potential for the tech and potential has a lot of value. If people just gave up because the first time they try something didn’t live up to expecations we’d never see any progress in the world.

          Gamers are the most self-entitled whiny brats. They expect everything to be perfect and falling short of that they take to the internet and whine. It’s embarassing to mature gamers that care more about seeing progress evolve than whining about the lack of instant results.

          Nothing I’ve posted in my original comment can’t be done by a simple webcam huh? Show me a simple webcam that can sign me in by facial recognition in a pitch dark room. Show me a simple webcam that can track hand and body motions for on screen applications beyond just following you when you move your head. I’d really like to see your simple webcam do those things. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

          I never said that Kinect had an “advanced future tech microphone”. I said it has VOICE RECOGNITION SOFTWARE. Regular microphones do not and would not do the job that Kinect does. Yes, you’re right most of us hardcore gamers mostly use the Kinect for voice control. That much is true, but we DO use the camera for stuff as well. The instant sign on for example. Not a huge thing but it’s nice to have. So what exactly would be the point of Microsoft wasting time and resources to make Kinect-ish microphone only for a smaller percentage of gamers that have no interest in motion controlled gaming or using Skype or any of the Kinect camera functions when they can offer a Kinect for $100. $100 is actually really cheap. Go to any store that sells computer stuff and find me a 1080p HD webcam for less than $100. I doubt you can even find one that is 720p for less than $70. Now add on to that Kinect’s motion tracking, infrared, and night vision capabilities. $100 is a steal for all of that.

          By all means keep being a whiner dude. Me, I’ll support innovation.

  • COREY_1993

    vita still has life. they have games coming for it and they also have ps+. the vita has also sold really well since the ps4 came out. people need to remember that 80% of these indie games come to the vita too.

    the vita has even been 2nd on some charts this year only being beaten by the 3ds.

    ps+ is more than enough to warrant a purchase.

    • COREY_1993

      suppose i better say the name lmao… freedom wars is coming out and its gonna sell a lot in japan. they are really hyped for the game. its really strage why they aint promoting it but they also aint been promoting one of my most anticipated game later this year exclusively for ps4…. Guilty Gear Xrd and fighting game.

    • mindgame

      Sony needs to remember it and sell that message to people…people dont know that indie games are coming to vita and Sony needs to advertise more of that to the people. Also advertise more about ps+ on the vita…..

      And then i still dont know if the vite wil have enough life to survive another year. For me the vita has been dead for about a year. Indie games are ok but i want to buy full fledged games too….

  • TaboriHK

    The answer on Kinect is about as clear as any story in video game news can get. The consumers didn’t want it, MS made it mandatory, and it hobbled the sales of their console. When they made it optional, sales picked up. Not exactly mysterious.

  • mrimpatient35

    I was really optimistic for Kinect 2.0 when X1 was announced. I thought that it wouldn’t be much initially, but in 1-2 years, it would definitely be worth it. I thought devs would begin using it in cool, fun, and interesting ways. Thanks to a certain vocal group of gamers, Kinect has been “killed off” before any of this could happen…several months later. Not even a year. RIP Kinect. You could’ve been something. Now, we’ll never know.

    • cidgrad

      Is that you, Phil Spencer?

  • Aaron

    I want the Kinect just for the voice commands, but not gaming. I hate motion gaming. I was born in 1981, so I prefer a controller in my hand.

    • lukeperryglover

      yeah i like using a controller too. I do like kinect for anything but motion games as well 😛 voice controls 😉

    • cidgrad

      Which is fine, and if MS had actually been listening to consumers they could have included some sort of mic. OR, and I this is crazy, they could have opened up the console to be compatible with any ol’ PC mic or webcam. Or Bluetooth headset. I dunno. Lots and lots of things MS could have done instead of waste time & money on the worthless Kinect.

  • andy

    Here is a funny note. Which ones of these did you realise wasn’t at Gamescom right now with this article and then got the biggest sigh of relief that it wasn’t too and are 100% glad it is dead.

  • Truth

    Vita has been dead for a long time. Kinect not yet gamewise and will always serve as the voice remote. The Vita makes it worthless as a remote device.

  • ChrisTypeR


  • cidgrad

    Kinect just sucks and has never worked as advertised. Voice commands were supposed to be a minor, side function. Its main purpose was allegedly for gaming and it has failed hard. Even the few games where it works well get old fast. How long can you play Fruit Ninja Kinect?

    I don’t know much about the Vita b/c I have no interest in buying one. Can’t find a reason to justify the cost.

  • JetpackJesus

    My Kinect gets a ton of use, but not for gaming. I don’t see either of those things changing any time soon.

  • WyrmKind

    The vita is not dead. The vita store has tons of great games, including some fantastic indie games. The kinect however, was obviously a massive flop.

  • Waffle

    Playing games on the Vita is really fun and the games look great. That is what it’s got going for it.

    My wish for the Vita is that it could play the same games a person plays on the PS3 or PS4 and sync up with where you left off. Eventually you have to leave the house for work or school or whatever, and if there were the capacity to progress on that latest game you’re hooked on, that would be amazing.