Triple the Kinect Games? That’s Weak, Microsoft

By  |  Friday, May 13, 2011 at 8:10 am

Microsoft is making what sounds like a lofty promise for Kinect: By year-end, the number of available games for the Xbox 360 motion sensor will triple.

But given that six months after launch, Kinect’s existing lineup stands at a mere 26 games, Microsoft promise isn’t that bold. Hitting 78 games should be cakewalk, and it’s sad to see the revolutionary controller get such little support from developers and publishers.

Consider Nintendo’s Wii for comparison. The console launched in November 2006, and by year-end, the Wii had 45 games on the market. By the end of 2007, the Wii’s games list had ballooned to 215 titles. And Kinect is actually a faster-growing device than the Wii. After seven months on the market, Nintendo had sold 9.3 million Wii consoles worldwide. Microsoft’s Kinect hit the 10 million sales mark after four months.

Of course, quantity isn’t everything, and the Wii had its fair share of shovelware to boost the size of its game lineup, but I’ve seen no evidence that Microsoft won’t suffer the same fate. Of Kinect’s 26-game lineup, seven games scored a 50 or less on Metacritic, a review aggregation site. Only one Kinect game, Dance Central, scored above an 80.

I don’t hold Microsoft entirely responsible. Third-party developers can be a huge factor in a platform’s success, and so far they haven’t done a great job. Still, Microsoft’s delay in letting indie developers create downloadable Kinect games for Xbox Live Arcade doesn’t help. It’s especially disappointing given the innovation we’ve seen from bedroom programmers.

Clearly, Microsoft has a hit on its hands with the Kinect hardware, but unless it can come up with amazing software to match, Kinect risks becoming the next Wii — a fad — and that’s a shame because the potential is so much greater.


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12 Comments For This Post

  1. Keith Shaw Says:

    It seems like most of the excitement around the Kinect is how to use the technology in non-gaming usages, such as augmented reality, or PC-based things like the Minority Report interfaces. It's a shame that third-party support in gaming isn't there, but I'm hoping that Microsoft supports this in their PC work to create new motion-controlled tech in things other than the Xbox.

  2. David Says:

    Have you seen the SDK? Perhaps it is terrible. There is a world of difference between toss together some quickie code and release production level software ready for the masses. It is nonsense to compare the two. Google with Honeycomb, for example, is learning what happens when you throw things out into the wild, with no regard for code quality.

    Just because some poindexter in his bedroom put out something doesn't mean that there aren't significant challenges to release production level code people will pay for.

    If you don't think the developers have done a good job, why don't YOU pick up that keyboard and DO something about it. Talk is cheap.

  3. Jared Newman Says:

    Consumers don't care whether it's hard to release production software. They care whether the product that's been sitting in their entertainment center for six months is getting used. Without new software, it's not going to happen.

    But you're right. I should just quit my job and start coding. In fact, all tech bloggers should just stop what they're doing and write code for Microsoft. That would make the world a better place.

  4. David Says:

    You want to blame MS for not having software fore their device. Fine. But you want to blame third-party developers, just plain out of line. As for the consumers not caring, I'll bet they'll start to care if software doesn't show up.

    What you should do, instead of carping which definitely doesn't make the world a better place and be at least, informative. I don't see informative in this article. I do see finger pointing at at the wrong target. Is that making the world a better place?

    The only one responsible for supporting their hardware is MS. Third-party developers have NO obligation to support anything. If people don't like it, buy different hardware or write your own stuff.

    That's what those bedroom guys did and you were singing their praises, implying that they were doing something the the guys who make their living writing games couldn't. So yes, if it is so disappointing and you blame the third party guys why don't you, like the bedroom programmers, do something useful and show everyone how its done.

  5. Jared Newman Says:

    What I was implying about the bedroom guys is that if you let indie developers run with the platform, they can make great things — including small-scale developers who do it for a living. Microsoft hasn't allowed them to do that, because Kinect isn't open to Xbox Live Arcade development right now.

    I get your point that Microsoft is ultimately responsible for what happens to its platform (hence the title and focus of most of the story), but I don't see why it's out of line to point out that much of the third-party software for Kinect is shovelware.

  6. @ymala1 Says:

    What's with all the hate on this article? You're absolutely right, third party developers have no obligation to support anything… but does that mean it's right? Does that mean it's not a situation that should be different? That's all Jared is pointing out. There's a device out there with a promising user base and technology that has been proven to be innovative, it's just sad that there aren't a decent number of quality titles to take advantage of it. What's so wrong about pointing that out?

  7. Tim Stone Says:

    Quantity of software does not matter in the slightest. Quality matters and that is where the Wii was horrible at. Most of the software on the Wii is just shovelware and the quality is lacking by a lot.

    I would rather see enjoyable, fun, and innovative software, than just more junk.

  8. Tim Stone Says:

    Kinect is also new and unknown and that takes a while for developers to get around to, also Microsoft is holding everything back from E3 and the Tokyo and European game shows, so this entire article looks to be premature.

  9. Ron Says:

    I think the Wii has been awesome, and started the trend towards human-interaction devices like the iPhone's accelerometer, which led to augmented reality apps, which led to the Kinect, etc.

    Calling the Wii a fad is like calling the apple II a fad.just because it hasn't been properly upgraded and maintained doesn't mean it's a fad. The Wii's biggest problem is that it doesn't have HD graphics, which makes it pale to other consoles. It's still very much used in my household years after it came out – not the mark of something that's a fad!

  10. JaredNewman Says:

    Fair point. I do think the Wii has flared out, but I didn't mean to discount the infuence the Wii had on other motion controls, including Kinect. I'd still be careful about giving the Wii all the credit for the rise of natural interfaces. This was going to happen whether it was applied to a game console or not, and I'm willing to bet that Apple was planning an accelerometer long before the Wii hit the market — they weren't released very far apart, after all.

  11. Marlyt Says:

    A) When it comes to "fanboys" of one system or another, said system can do no wrong. I'm a PS3 user and have no problem admitting where the PS platform has missed the mark with us, the consumers. That's the difference between fanboys and supporters. I will NEVER own an XBOX, but I won't defend the PS3 against any and all criticism. I don't understand why Microsoft and Sony don't open up larger segments of development to smaller projects from indies. A lot of the most creative games are spawned by the smaller devs. Would it cost them movey? More is more, right?

    B) Wii is/was a fad. The biggest Wii software title from E3 2010, Zelda: Skyward Sword, still has NO release date and Nintendo is set to introduce their new HD console in three weeks at E3 2011. My seven and 10 year old sons won't play the Wii we got two years ago because it's "not as fun" as the PS3. It's a wrist flick to do everything. How is that fun? I'll answer myself…It's not. At first the Wii's novelty was cool, and now it's just too simple. One man's opinion.

  12. charles Says:

    86 million consoles sold worldwide in a faster time span than the PS2 is not a fad! Yes, there is a lot of shovelware for Wii; but there are also many gems. Some of the best games of this generation has also come exclusively from the Wii. Plus, many innovative games have impimented motions controls creatively. The biggest issue with the Wii are the consumers whom are not open to new games and ideas of how to play.