Can Microsoft’s Xbox Have Another Kinect Christmas, or Will It Be Coal All Around?

Microsoft’s hands-free gaming controller for the Xbox set a Guinness world record when it sold 10 million units during the 2010 holiday season.

A year later, Microsoft is hoping a large lineup of games — 75 in all – will fuel a repeat performance.

And, if more sports and dance games won’t work, then it’s also integrating the speech- and motion-controlled Kinect capabilities into all aspects of the Xbox to seal the deal.

“It’s not just something for videogames. It’s something that will have a fundamental change in how people interact with technology,” said David Dennis, group product manager of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business.

Dennis declined to provide an update on how many Kinect sensors the company has sold since last season. To be sure, it has a long way to go to a majority of owners having it.

More than 55 million of the latest Xboxes have been sold to date, compared to the 10 million sensors sold, based on last year’s sales figures.

But he said the 75 new Kinect games available for the Xbox coming out this holiday are four times the number of games that came out for the launch last year.

Sony’s PlayStation Move, which it says has sold eight million devices, expects to launch a third of the titles, or 26, between September and December this year.

Tony Key, SVP of Sales & Marketing at Ubisoft, says its company has a dozen games, especially made for the Kinect, coming out this holiday.

“We are big believers and we’ve had a lot of success on it. We are going to continue to invest in the space, and it’s a great way to broaden the market,” he said. “Motion-controlled this year will sell more than last year. Kinect has a bright future. We have more Kinect games and a higher forecast on Kinect games.”

The range of games has expanded vastly beyond the dance, fitness and sports genres that launched last year. However, in general, the games still tend to still be more family-friendly and casual and aren’t meant for the hardcore demographic.

“It was about breaking down the barriers and making it easier to play. The games we launched with fundamentally and absolutely exploited the magic of Kinect,” Dennis said.

But that’s slowly changing. For example, some of Ubisoft’s titles — such as Just Dance 3, Just Dance Kids 2 and Your Shape Fitness Evolved — follow the status quo, but the publisher is bringing Kinect aspects to all future Tom Clancy games, including Ghost Recon Future Soldier, which comes out early next year.

In the game, players use hand gestures to customize weapons and voice controls to choose different attachments.

Dennis said there are many more examples of games that have Kinect features that aren’t necessarily Kinect-only games.

For instance, in Forza Motorsport 4, a racing game, players can look to their left to see a competitor’s car out the driver’s side window. Electronic Art’s Mass Effect 3, coming out next year, will allow players during battle to use voice controls to talk to their squad mates, including something like, “take cover on the left!”

More broadly, Kinect is also being integrated into all aspects of entertainment on the Xbox, including the ability to use Bing to search the music, games and video catalog on Xbox Live, or control Netflix.

In Xbox’s latest Kinect commercial it illustrates how Kinect has everything to do with it being a replacement for a remote control, and never even shows anyone playing a game.

Here’s a video showing off Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon’s GunSmith feature:


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus