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Input Devices Microsoft Games

Is Microsoft's Kinect a Gaming Failure? 130

MojoKid writes "E3 is well underway in Los Angeles, and Microsoft has already made a major splash with its 'SmartGlass' technology, game demos, and its announcement that a Kinect-powered version of Internet Explorer will debut on the Xbox 360. This is a marked change from last year, when Kinect was the unquestioned centerpiece of Microsoft's display and the company's demos focused on how Kinect-powered games used your full body as a controller. Kinect is in the interesting position of having sold extremely well while failing to move the bar forward in any of the ways Microsoft projected in the run up to its launch. Scroll through the ratings on Kinect-required titles, and the percentages are abysmal. Kinect's biggest problem is rooted in ergonomics. Gamepads with buttons may be crude approximations of real life, but they're simple and intuitive. They're also flexible — a great many games have conditional scenarios that allow the same button to perform different functions depending on what's going on within the game. Pure Kinect games don't have a simple mechanism to incorporate these features, and there's no easy way around them. The motion-controller's most enduring features may ultimately be its capabilities outside the gaming sphere."
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Is Microsoft's Kinect a Gaming Failure?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The future is but one word: dildonics. Get in on the ground floor this time, MS!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dildonics is so last century! Teledildonics, now that is where it's at!

      • Dildonics is so last century! Teledildonics, now that is where it's at!

        Its actually the truth. The PS2 had a Trance Vibrator released for REZ.

  • QUOTE: " Kinect's biggest problem is rooted in ergonomics. Gamepads with buttons may be crude approximations of real life, but they're simple and intuitive."

    I wish Nintendo would let players *choose* if they want to use the motion sensor, or a controller. I wasted 3 hours trying to beat the *first* boss in Metroid Prime 3. If I had been able to use the standard Gamecube controller as the previous games, it would have been dead in mere minutes.

    Pikmin and Zelda: TZ and Sonic Adventure 5(?) were also a pain

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Forcing developers, to force users to navigate UI with Kinect is the primary issue for me.

      As a developers on one of the initial Kinect titles, and as a consumer playing other games... this was and is one of the biggest barriers to entry to Kinect's success.

    • I can agree. I think the Pro controller is to address your concern with being forced to use the wavy sticks. I also think the duel screen pad will help reduce the need to reconfigure my living room to use the Wii Fit or Balance Board. I'm not sure if Kinect can take the same advantage of Smart Glass.
    • Indeed, I remember playing SSBB with a friend when it first came out and we would round robin using the Gamecube controller we had on hand. Whoever was using the Gamecube controller would win and whoever was using the Wiimote lost. SSBB doesn't use the motion controls but even just using the Wiimote as a regular controller was wonky at best. The sideways NES style just didn't work as well.

    • >I wish Nintendo would let players *choose* if they want to use the motion sensor, or a controller. I wasted 3 hours trying to beat the *first* boss in Metroid Prime 3. If I had been able to use the standard Gamecube controller as the previous games, it would have been dead in mere minutes.

      The problem with Metroid Wii is not the controller. The problem is your failure to locate the One Fucking Pixel that achieves victory or even allows movement in some cases.

    • I wasted 3 hours trying to beat the *first* boss in Metroid Prime 3.

      What, the encounter falling down the shaft with Ridley? That first fight with one of the other mercs? Or the first boss in one of the seeds?

      In any case, 3 hours? Seriously? The *only* difference between the MP1/2 and MP3 controls (that you would have access to at that point in the game) was that you have direct control over the targeting reticle.


      • The boss you encounter when you are trying to escape the dying station. Right before a savepoint I was trying to reach. (The savepoint really should be before the boss, not after.)

    • The Wii's motion control is okay for simple games like tennis or bowling, but a PITA for complex games.

      When I played Zelda: Skyward Sword I was amazed how well the motion control worked, and I wouldn't exactly call a Zelda game "simple".

    • As a matter of fact, I really enjoyed how controllers were used in Mario Galaxy - it used the nunchuk+wiimote setup, and feels like a regular controller, except that you sometimes point at the screen or shake the wiimote.

      My point is, Mario Galaxy didn't overused the wii controllers - instead, it used a traditional setup with some of the new features. And it was a good choice, in my opinion. By the way, holding the nunchuk and the wiimote feels much more confortable than a sixaxis - of course, you don't ha

      • I had two problems with the Mario Galaxy controls.

        First, the analogue stick on the Nunchuck is not good - its range of motion is just plain unnatural. Why can't it be in a circular groove like the analogue sticks on proper controllers?

        Second, the use of "waggle" as a button to activate spin-jump. Too messy and imprecise for a core control in a precision platformer. Every time I die on a jump because "waggle" fails to register, I curse the controllers.

        The Mario Galaxy games had some great level design, but f

  • Audio Controls (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rokstar ( 865523 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:16PM (#40237343)
    While I agree that the motion controller features could be considered a failure for gaming purposes, its voice control capabilities are its most enduring feature to me. Being able to control the various video streaming services by talking to the TV still feels like we are living in the future.
    • Re:Audio Controls (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:29PM (#40237475)
      Depends on the game I think... Kinect is pretty much the ultimate party game controller. During parties I always have my xbox running, and people just jump in and out of the game as they feel like it. Much better than wii and ps3 where there's passing around controllers... since they tend to get misplaced between sessions and as drunkenness ensues... which reminds me of the best feature of the kinect: taking pictures of drunk people playing games and uploading them automatically to facebook. Amazing.
    • The stupid thing though is that Kinect voice controls have NOTHING AT ALL to do with the Kinect hardware. All that analysis is done on the Xbox itself. Sure it is using Kinect code, but the code runs on the CONSOLE, it is not run on the Kinect hardware like the 3D processing.

      Which means that all of these games that have voice control could EASILY have had this enabled using the headset, if Microsoft wanted to allow that. But they'd much rather push more stupid Kinect sales.

      • by rokstar ( 865523 )
        My understanding is that just like the voice processing is done on the Kinect, the 3d processing is as well. There was an article on joystiq many moons ago about this. From wikipedia...

        Although the sensor unit was originally planned to contain a microprocessor that would perform operations such as the system's skeletal mapping, it was revealed in January 2010 that the sensor would no longer feature a dedicated processor. Instead, processing would be handled by one of the processor cores of the Xbox 360's Xenon CPU.[63] According to Alex Kipman, the Kinect system consumes about 10-15% of the Xbox 360's computing resources.[64]

        Also the kinect has an array of microphones, not just one. Sure you could make a headset to do this but you couldn't use any old headset.

        • by rokstar ( 865523 )
          Sorry that should be:

          My understanding is that just like the voice processing is done on the xbox, the 3d processing is as well

    • its voice control capabilities are its most enduring feature to me. Being able to control the various video streaming services by talking to the TV still feels like we are living in the future.

      Considering "Hey You Pikachu", though flawed was an N64 game and there were PS2 games with voice recognition I'm surprised Nintendo and Sony haven't done more with voice control./recognition. Never had a Dreamcast but there was Seaman on that.

      • I guess, they have discovered that it's a bad idea and abandoned it.

        Voice commands SUCK ASS as an input for a game.

  • Ratings (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:21PM (#40237397)

    Scroll through the ratings on Kinect-required titles, and the percentages are abysmal.

    Scroll through? Scroll where? Let's head over to amazon then and see how they're doing:

    • Kinect Sports - 4.5 stars 400 reviews
    • Kinect Sports 2 - 4.0 stars 204 reviews
    • Kinect Star Wars - 3.5 stars 70 reviews
    • Kinect Disneyland Adventures - 3.5 stars 154 reviews
    • Just Dance 3 - 4.5 stars 194 reviews
    • Dance Central - 4.5 stars 500 reviews
    • Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 - 4.5 stars 201 reviews
    • Kinectimals - 4.5 stars 159 reviews

    Do I need to keep scrolling? I don't see many games with reviews under 3 stars. Where are these supposed abysmal ratings?

    • Re:Ratings (Score:5, Interesting)

      by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:23PM (#40237419)

      He means by professional reviewers, which just don't like these kinds of games.

      I bought Fight for the PS3 move and it is a great game that got terrible professional reviews. I am convinced this is because Fight is actual exercise.

      • Maybe, but Dance Central is easily the best thing on Kinect and got great professional reviews. Just Dance isn't half bad either, but inferior to Harmonix's offering IMO. I think it's a little unfair to say such reviewers just don't like these kinds of games. They may just not be very good.
      • I've given up on "professional" reviews. There always seems to be a bias, an agenda, or just paying back their advertisers. I follow a few people on YouTube who have done reviews that have mostly lined up with my views of games. And this extends beyond just the motion games.

      • Professional reviewers aren't the ones buying games. And people that read professional reviews are the minority of customers now. Really what it comes down to is how well things are selling (which I have no idea about when it comes to theses games).
    • the most reviews are 500.... 500 for a console game, I didnt look but how many reviews are there for e "regular" top selling games?
    • That's pretty bad for amazon reviews (which tend to be inflated). Usually anything below 4.5 isn't worth buying.

      • I've found the opposite to be true, at least for the things I buy on amazon. I've noticed people like to give poor ratings to things when they are mad at the supplier for a lenthy shipment and other things that don't actually have anything to do with the product.
    • by arose ( 644256 )
      Head over to Amazon and look at the reviews for any kind of mainstream media...
    • Try metacritic (rounded to the next 5%) :
      Kinect Sports 75% metacritic (90% amazon)
      Kinect sport 2 65% (amazon 80%) Kinect star wars 35% user score (55% professional) amazon 70%.
      Kinect disneyland 75% (amazon 70%).

      I did not bother looking up the rest, but from the user score in my experience is that those are average or good game, but not *special* or incredible. I think the GP exagerated with his abysmal precentage, but they cetrainly are not excellent percentage.
  • Can I use Metro in the Cloud with SmartGlass, or will I need a wizard to help me?

  • by tacroy ( 813477 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:23PM (#40237421)
    The games where it has supported a traditional controller are actually very engaging. I love just yelling "Tali sabotage" while aiming normally. Similar in Skyrim, dragon shouting in dragon language is pretty neat. As far as motion tracking, the Steel Battalion demo was REALLY frustrating the first time I tried it. THEN I tried playing it like i was actually there by using quick motions instead of trying to "hover over controls" and press and hold. And it just clicked. It's now one of the titles I am anticipating. It's been mostly gimmick waggle and dance so far. But the opportunity is there; heck just add head tracking to all first person shooters and you make something awesome....
  • I picked up a 360 with Kinect for my parents a couple of weeks ago. Controllers are becoming more difficult for them to use; and I figured controlling a game with whole body movements would work better for them.

    So far they've really enjoyed it; it seems to be a good fit for the same casual gamers who have been using a Wii, but want games that are a bit more complex.

  • Motion must be fun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZombieBraintrust ( 1685608 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @06:08PM (#40237857)
    Microsoft promoted the Kinect as intuitive. But being intuitive is not enough for motion controls. The motion itself must be fun to do. Thus your dance games are very popular because dancing is fun. Aerobics is fun for some people and painfull for others. Running in place is not very fun. The Kinect is succesfull if all it does is replace dance pads. That is a big enough market for gaming companies to put out games.
    • I'm actually looking forward to the DBZ Kinect game, of all things, because they incorporated the signature poses of the main moves into the battles. Firing off a Kamehameha sure looks like a ton of fun.
  • The Knnect sensor is quite a nice feature if you ask me but the *real* problem is with the whole game console industry and not with the various user interfaces. The game console industry is being squeezed out of the market by smartphones and tablets with touch screens. Yea, the user interface on these devices really sucks for classic game design, but they are extremely portable, have a very active application development communities and hundreds of cheap applications already available.

    I expect the game

    • I have zero desire to play on a tiny screen. If I did I would have bought a Gameboy a decade ago, but instead I prefer the full-sized games on TV just as I prefer full-sized movies on TV, not something on my little phone.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @06:34PM (#40238209)
    The device made grandiose claims it couldn't possibly deliver on. Remember all that BS about it being able to recognize faces and even emotions? The thing can't even reliably tell when someone has their arms in front of them.

    The average kinect game involves making some exaggerated flailing motions that map onto some canned animations. Even then it often screws up or gets confused. There's only so far you can go with that system. Sports / fitness / dance games are the main focus but there isn't much beyond that. There have been a few genuinely innovative attempts to use kinect in a novel way that have almost succeeded such as Once Upon a Monster but most games have been dire and people have gotten bored of it.

    • by Mista2 ( 1093071 )

      The other issue is consistency, sometimes you can use voice in the menus, sometimes you can't, and it seems unable to understand my kids at all, which is very frustrating for them.
      And one in the games there are different ways to select menu items etc. if there was a standard API of gursturs that woul make more sense. The kinnect gets much less use than I expected by the kids.

      • and it seems unable to understand my kids at all, which is very frustrating for them.

        Voice recognition seems to have issues with people with high and/or squeaky voices. My late mother, who had Rheumatoid Arthritis was simply unable to use Dragon Naturally speaking because it simply wouldn't recognize her high pitched squeaky voice, not even for the first "welcome to dragon naturally speaking...." training. It worked for me out of the box, though.

    • The irony of course is that despite all the hating, the quite humourous Playstation ads were right; buttons help a lot, and a trackable controller has better position and direction sensing than your flailing arms.

      Its much easier to show a game where to aim a bow and arrow or a sword or shield with a small controller in your hand to simulate them ...

      That all aside, all this emphasis on motion gaming misses a lot of the point; we want to do things in video games that we can't do for real. I don't know how to

  • by dohzer ( 867770 )

    Chuck it in the failure pile with the Jaguar, 32X, and the Wii.

    • Chuck it in the failure pile with the Jaguar, 32X, and the Wii.

      Dude, did you seriously just lump the Wii in with Jaguar and 32X? You might want to go take a quick peek at some sales numbers for the Wii before calling it a 'failure'. If the 360 has surpassed the Wii in sales, it's because they break and people replace them. It's not at all uncommon to hear a gamer say "I'm on my third 360." Kid at Target even said he was on his fourth as he was ringing mine up (I finally gave in and got one for the kids). Don't get me wrong, I think the 360 is a great system, I lik

      • but to call the Wii a failure is just dishonest.

        It's a short-term success, but in the long-term it's going to cost Nintendo. The Wiimote is the only widely-supported control system on the platform, and for many games it's too limiting.

        For games that require fast action, most players I've met get frustrated quickly. Motion control waggles are always a balance between dead-zone and live-zone, and since too much dead-zone frustrates players, they push the live-zone to the bleeding edge. This means as player

        • I'd reckon that the Wii has an installed user base more than triple both the Jaguar and 32X combined. They were not marketing it to hard core gamers, they were marketing it to casual gamers and families. I've seen Wiis sitting on the shelves of people whom I'd never classify as a "gamer"... couples with no kids, single women, older folks, etc. I think Wii Fit planted it in many homes of people who were looking for a "fun" way to improve their physical condition (whether or not it actually worked for that
  • by cookd ( 72933 ) <douglascook.juno@com> on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @07:09PM (#40238561) Journal

    Whether Kinect is a failure depends on exactly how you define success.

    -- Controlling the games we're used to playing on the xbox? FAIL.
    -- Getting good reviews from people who review games on our favorite gaming websites? FAIL.
    -- Selling a lot of units? WIN.
    -- Has some games that some consumers really like? WIN.
    -- Good as an input mechanism for some interesting non-traditional uses? WIN.
    -- The future of gaming? FAIL.
    -- The future of computer-human interaction? PROBABLY.

    As an additional note, the first version isn't terribly awesome, but inevitably it'll get better in the future.

  • by Powercntrl ( 458442 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @07:11PM (#40238591)

    I play video games specifically because I *want* to sit on my lard arse while blowing up aliens, flinging birds or jumping on turtles. Back in my day, you only got up in front of the TV and flailed around madly if you were a sore losing spazz. Yes, I just played the grumpy old gamer card.

    Rot in hell Kinect, Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Sports and any other video game concept that dares pollute my holy pastime with elements of "gym class"!

    • Agreed. The 'get fit while you game' craze was a fad driven by marketing and the clueless mommies taken in by it. Motion control input is laughably inadequate for most game genres, and it's an annoyance even for games that are simple enough to support it.
    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      You can easily "game" a Wii controller so that you can use it while sitting on your ass. Very little actual motion is required for most activities.

      Plus there are buttons.

      See adult try to pretend he's bowling. See kid move the wiimote in the least natural but most effective path possible.

      The problem with Kinect may be that it's not simple enough and you can't be lazy with it.

  • Video capture systems to interact with computers have been around since the Amiga, and they are great for some games in some situations, but on the other hand you dont want to move your furniture to jump around like a dolt for every single game, it gets tiresome, tedious, and frustrating. Yea great you have had fun with them for a little while, but where does it end up? Right next to your WII, move, eye-toy, light guns, activator and rock-n-roller. Whats your next console going to have in the box? A gamepad

    • Calling it a video capture system is woefully inaccurate. I do agree that some Kinect games are poorly designed, and not enough resources have been put into thoughtfully getting the most out of this technology for games or other applications (i.e. after a long day at work, who really wants to swipe their whole arm across the sky repetitively to cover flow scroll through your Netflix catalog, when a sub-millimeter click of your thumb on a remote would achieve the same thing??), but that has to do with the
  • When will the developers at Microsoft tell their bosses "no, no we can't put Internet Explorer in that, because it fucking sucks. That's right, it sucks. Internet Explorer is FUCKING TERRIBLE." Just be sure to record it and put it up on YouTube so we can all witness such pure win.
  • I've always felt the kinetic will make a great party game. It will also do great for things like exercise videos, and personal trainer type games.
    But face it, if people wanted to play sports, they'd go outside and play sports. I play video games because I am not fast enough, dexterous enough, or in shape enough to stand there and participate in the game. I want to sit on the couch and play.
    But its more than that. How long do you want to stand there with your arm held out doing something. Everyone talks
  • The biggest problem with kinect is the amount of space required to be able to use it, not many people have that much space in front of the TV.. It's great tech, especially if it's supplemented with a Move-controller..
  • In 1984-85 I helped develop a 3D mouse (I called it "the bat, a mouse that flew") for use with a real 3D display we had running to explore 3D images from our real time 3D CT image scanner. The bat could control point cursors as well as line and plane cursors. Hardware limitations made it slow, but beyond that, fatigue soon set in while using the device, making it unrealistic for use in practical applications. I'm not surprised that Kinect seems to be suffering from a fate that I perceive as similar.
  • By Maturity, I mean of the tech. Kinect is cool, no doubt, but it's still rather mediocre at tracking subtle movements. This means it works for games that feature gross physical gestures, but still it's nothing like as high a level as resolution as the cheapest controllers.

    By Context I mean of the game. If I'm playing a boxing game on my couch, I might want to just play the game, and not actually BOX. If I want to go play golf, I'll go play golf (ie outdoors). If I'm playing Skyrim at midnight, I might

  • A problem I think Kinect is struggling with is standardized control conventions.
    On gamepads, navigating menus by moving the thumbstick in the direction of the item you want to select is intuitive and a standard way of how basically all games (I should say UI's) work. It's also a standard convention to have the A button select or accept things and have the B button go back to the previous screen or cancel actions. Does Kinect have such standardized control mechanisms?
  • I got to try the Kinect recently as part of a "workout" game review. While I liked the game itself, the Kinect had serious drawbacks. Mostly, I found that my living room was too small for it. It wouldn't be able to see me (no matter how I situated the Kinect) until my heels were pushing against my couch. Try doing a workout while your feet bump against your couch repeatedly. It's possible, but much harder than if the Kinect let me take a step or two forward. Then, if I was doing any kind of movement t

  • Just like the PS2 Move and the Wii, the Kinect is for casual gaming. If you don't like dancing, or petting furry animals, then it isn't for you. It isn't fast enough or accurate enough for fast hardcore gaming. Hardcore gamers don't want to spend 14 hours straight doing excercise: they want to zone out into the virtual world by pushing buttons. If you want to capture the Call of Duty market, do the opposite of the Kinect: make a direct brain interface.

    The Kinect is a casual gaming success. It allowed M

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan