Saturday, June 19, 2010

The XBox Kinect: Redefining Gaming

I had the opportunity to swing by the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this week in Los Angeles, which is one of the main gaming trade shows in North America. The vast majority of booths are dedicated to software and games, but being a "hardware" guy I focused on the Big 3 platform providers: Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. There are lots of web sites more dedicated to gaming that do a better job summarizing these systems than I do, so I will just jot down my thoughts after going through the show:
  • Microsoft has definitely redefined the game control experience with the introduction of the Kinect, much as Nintendo did with the Wii five years ago. Not only did MS create an incredible user experience that is unlike anything out there now, but they got "critical" mass behind the game with Kinect titles being introduced at the show by Ubisoft, Creative Arts, and other gaming companies.  This will definitely be the "must have" system for people who are into games.
  • Sony's Move control system is lame. Very lame. It doesn’t offer any more functionality than the five year-old Wii controller, except track you in the Z, and makes you look even more dorky while doing it since it works by sensing a light stuck on the end of the controller. The set-up also looks more clumsy than the Wii, with a camera sticking out above the TV rather than the almost unnoticeable Wii sensor bar.  After the show I was thinking that Sony is definitely behind and hurting in this market, then found an article by experts on this industry writing down my exact thoughts.
  • Nintendo didn't have any new hardware for the Wii, although they did announce some new games that I will likely add to my Christmas shopping list. With theWii Controller and Fit balance board together not giving the flexibility and experience of the Kinect, I would hope that Nintendo has some sort of 3D sensing in development in the lab if they want to keep up with MS.  

    Nintendo's main announcement was their new DS with 3D screen and 3D picture taking.  Nintendo is really becoming the only handheld game company left, the Sony PS2 being a market loser and much of the portable market going to the cellphone. The 3D technology is obviously Nintendo's strategy to differentiate the DS from a cellphone, which is now the largest growing game "platform" on the market, and they will have to keep adding things to the portable systems that can't be found in a cellphone if they want to survive.

It was an interesting show, but not THAT interesting for a hardware guy.  There were over a hundred other booths dedicated to new games and software, and someone seriously into gaming would have had a blast trying out all the new titles.  For those reviews, the best place to take a look is over at GameSpot.