With the E3 Expo right around the corner, Microsoft has been awfully quiet regarding the lineup for its press conference this year. While we can expect to see some new casual-fare Kinect titles, is it possible that Microsoft plans on also introducing the Kinect to the hardcore faithful? The answer could be yes if the box art for Mass Effect 3 is to be believed. 

One of the readers on NeoGaf was browsing Electronic Arts‘ online store and happened to notice that Mass Effect 3‘s box art showcased an image of the Kinect next to the phrase “Better with the Kinect Sensor.” While BioWare has stated that it wished to bring the Mass Effect series to a larger market, we didn’t expect them to focus on our grandparents. All kidding aside, this isn’t the first time the Kinect has been briefly advertised for use with an upcoming hardcore title. A similar slip-up occurred with Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. In any case, you can see the Mass Effect 3 image for yourself below.

Mass Effect ME3 BioWare Kinect Xbox 360

As of the time we posted this article, the image was still available on EA’s server, but has been removed from the online store. Clearly, if this was not merely a prank by an EA employee, the information was not ready for public consumption. Some may rush to judgment and blame Kinect integration for the delay of Mass Effect 3, but frankly, BioWare likely moved the release date due to the heavy competition during the holidays.

This isn’t the first time BioWare has spoken about the Kinect and Mass Effect 3 in the same sentence. Last year, Greg Zeschuck of BioWare commented on how a motion controller such as the Kinect could be utilized:

The new motion controls are very interesting and quite powerful. Phase one of those is the dancing, fitness and party games, the sword-swinging games. The next phase is where it gets really interesting when developers like us can tear it all down and ask “what can we actually do in a game like Mass Effect?” Can we create a greater sense of immersion during conversations by using gestures? I think we probably could and I think that’s where we’ll explore. We’re not going to do a party game, we’re not going to do Dance Dance Krogan for Mass Effect. The reality is it’s going to have a really positive impact. There’s that impediment of a controller but hardcore gamers are never going to give that up. It might be nice to see a hybrid of a controller used with additional gesture on the side for immersive elements. So we’ll see it go from family entertainment and then broaden out.

So if we aren’t going to dance with Liara, how will the Kinect be utilized in Mass Effect 3? Perhaps voice or gesture commands? Or maybe the Kinect’s camera will be utilized to map the player’s facial characteristics onto their customized Shepard? Could players use the Kinect to make steering the Mako an even more frustrating experience? Will the space hamster be a fully functioning Kinectimal? What do you think?

Mass Effect 3 is scheduled for release in early 2012 on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

Source: NeoGaf; Gamesindustry.biz (registration required)