To many people the Kinect is kind of an unknown quantity. Will it be worth the $149 price tag? Will there ever be games that take advantage of it which go beyond Wii Sports knocks-offs that will appeal to the hardcore gaming community? With all those questions floating around in the minds of gamers the one thing we do know is that Microsoft thinks they know the answer. The answer apparently is that we will all buy a Kinect this year, making it the single biggest thing the game industry has ever seen.
Microsoft Game Studios corporate vice president, Phil Spencer, spoke with Edge magazine during the Tokyo Game Show and revealed just how successful Microsoft is expecting the Kinect to be:
"We are investing in this like we've never invested in a platform launch. This is, for us, the biggest platform launch in the history of the industry. We'll have a huge launch portfolio, we want to sell more units than any console has ever sold in its first holiday, a new platform. Our retail partners are telling us, based on the consumer demand, “this is going to be the number one consumer electronics purchase this holiday. Not just in the games space, all of them”."
Spencer also went on to mention that in order to achieve this lofty goal, they are partnering with North American retailers to get the product into the hands of customers:
"In North America 7,000 retailers are doing midnight events when we ship and our pre-order momentum looks huge. So this, for us, is bigger than Xbox launch, bigger than 360 launch - this is a big deal for us. How many units are we going to sell? We're completely goaled in investing as if this were the biggest console launch ever, and that's our expectation."
Along with those 7,000 stores doing midnight launches, another 30,000 retail stores will have demo stations installed to give people a chance to get some hands-on (or should it be hands-free?) time with the Kinect device.
I think Microsoft is looking too much at the success of the Wii and assuming that this is going to sell like it did. Yes, soccer moms and kids may play on a demo station at the local Best Buy and become interested, but I think the price is going to be prohibitively expensive. The Kinect device itself is $149, almost the cost of a Wii system, and that is before you buy the Xbox 360 and games. For a new 360 owner purchasing the Kinect and a system the cheapest option available is $299.99, which is way above the impulse-buy price for most people.
While the price point for new 360 owners may be high, it may still sell to the crowd that already owns the system. I could see buying the Kinect for party games, or something for your parents or little siblings to play, but I doubt something that enough current 360 owners would buy to make it the biggest launch in history.
There are a few things about Microsoft's view on this launch that bugs me. First, this is not a console launch, it is an add-on. I can't buy a Kinect alone and play anything, I need to hook it up to a console. Second, saying that this will be the biggest launch in history is a bit much considering they expect a $149 add-on to sell more than their own Xbox 360, Sony's Playstation 2, the NES, or any other system ever did during its first holiday season. It may turn out the Microsoft may be totally right in their estimates, but until then this just sounds like hubris on their part.
So Ranters, does anyone plan on picking up a Kinect this year? Does anyone actually think this could sell more units during the holidays than any other console release in the past?
Kinect will launch on November 4th for the Xbox 360 at the price of $149.99.