Coming out of the Microsoft Press Conference at E3 2010 this year, there was no doubt that Microsoft was targeting the fabled ‘casual gamer’ with its new motion-sensing peripheral, Kinect. While some gamers may not have been surprised by this direction (whoever thought Project Milo would turn into a ‘hardcore’ title?), it appears that Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Worldwide Studios, was taken aback.
As we’ve posted before, Microsoft is clearly positioning Kinect to focus on more casual titles. Speaking to EDGE in issue 217 (the most recent issue), Yoshida stated that he was bemused by the family-friendly approach to Kinect, and instead thinks their strengths lie in the FPS genre.
“In practical purposes, those are Microsoft’s strengths – they have very strong FPSs, and they work with Activision to provide content for Call Of Duty. It’s very interesting to see them confirm where they have those strengths by opening [their E3 presentation] with those games.”
It’s easy to see where he’s coming from — the introduction to the Microsoft Press Conference read like a who’s who of upcoming shooters: Call of Duty: Black Ops, Gears of War 3, Halo Reach… The list of ‘hardcore’ titles goes on.
The focus soon shifted to Kinect, and it was here that the focus started to deviate:
“When they showed Kinect I was surprised to see so much on the casual side. It was a polarised kind of approach.”
Yoshida was also quick to point out that Sony’s focus is far more widespread:
“We are not focusing on one area, or two areas, but covering a full audience spectrum.”
It’s certainly plausible that Sony will be able to cover all bases with Move, but are they spreading themselves too thin? It appears that Microsoft is determined in their aim to capture the Wii gamer, but will Move have the software to corner all aspects of the market?
Personally, I’m not surprised that Microsoft is aiming Kinect at the casual gamer. However, I do believe they’re going about it in entirely the wrong way. The Wii succeeded because it was cheap, simple and most importantly because it had Wii Sports. From my perspective, Microsoft appears to believe that the Wii succeeded solely due to the hardware and its motion capabilities. They don’t seem to understand the main draw of a platform is its software — sure, Kinectimals and Dance Central look very cool, but I believe they lack the simplicity and appeal of a Wii Sports-like title.
Then there’s the main drawback to Kinect. I believe Kevin Butler said something along the lines of “Gaming is… buying a big screen TV that’s way too big for your tiny apartment” during the Sony press conference. I, and I’m sure many others, simply don’t have the space to play Kinect games. There is an approximate 3-4 foot gap between my couch and my TV, and if I’m playing in my bedroom, that gap sharply decreases. I’m not surprised by the casual Kinect, I’m surprised by the lack of thought about ‘average Joe’, who doesn’t have a warehouse in which he can play his videogames.
So there you have it, Sony is apparently ‘surprised’ by Kinect’s casual lineup. The question is, are you? How do you feel about the Kinect/Move and their intended demographics? Do you think Kinect could appeal to a ‘hardcore’ audience? Let us know in the comments below.
Kinect is due for release on November 4 2010, for the surprisingly high price of $149.99.