Microsoft’s Kinect – or “financial sinkhole”, to you and me…

Controller-free gaming (for the cash-rich...)

Value proposition? What value proposition?

It’s (semi) official – Microsoft really don’t plan on selling that many Kinect units this Autumn.

Eurogamer today reports that Microsoft have set a £129.99 price point for the Kinect motion controller and a copy of the not-terrific-looking “Kinect Adventures” game, which should be available in UK shops from November this year.

Take a moment for the reality of that pricing to sink in – take your time, I’m happy to wait.

A second’s Google-Fu yields a Nintendo Wii, Wii Sports Resort and a Motion Plus controller for £164.99 with delivery on Amazon.co.uk – though other deals are, of course, available.

Microsoft are quoted in the Eurogamer story as researching the pricing and thinking that £129.99 is a more than fair price for an untested peripheral and a not-terrifically-well-received collection of casual games, which does rather make you wonder what they consider cruel and consumer-mocking, price gouging?

Again, £129.99 for a controller and (let’s be optimistic, here) a momentarily diverting game. If you’ve not yet ‘jumped into’ the 360, you’re also looking at around £200.00 for the new Xbox Slim – or £250.00 for a bundled Kinect, Xbox 360 slim with 4gb internal memory and the pack-in game. Plus £79.99 for a 250gb hard drive, if you’re bitten by the 360 bug and decide that you want to get in gaming on a grander scale.

That’s a chunk of change for an unproven control system, with a (charitably described) low-key launch line-up in support, on a platform which has made a number of (failed) attempts to attract a near-mythical consumer group who want casual gaming fun with next-gen graphical heft.

It does seem to me that the demographic being so hungrily pursued by Microsoft have already spoken with their wallets and have a Wii console ensconced in their living room. It’s not the most powerful system in the market, but the Wii audience doesn’t place the same value on graphics, audio, presentation and the focal points of the HD era that have captured the attention of the core gaming audience in this generation.

Whilst Sony have made bold moves in emphasising tech with Blu-Ray and 3D in this gen, Microsoft are the choice of the hardcore shooter fan – with the “Halo” series, the defacto home base of the “Call of Duty” franchise and the Live multiplayer environment. They are not the system that you go to if you want mini-games, waggle-based controls and family fun.

Kinect has potential as a diversion at a price point more akin to £79.99 – at £129.99, it faces an uphill battle so daunting and front-loaded against it that I really can’t see it succeeding in the way that Microsoft needs it to. Kinect is priced solely for fools who have money to be parted from.

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