So, £130 is the price we British must pay for Microsoft’s Kinect. £250 if we want it in a bundle with the new 4GB (no, there are no zeroes missing) Xbox 360.
It’s not entirely unexpected, but it is a little disappointing to see a price point above the £100 mark. But then the price of the peripheral alone is arguably less important than the one for the bundle. Microsoft is, after all, trying to expand its userbase, not just serve its existing consumers. It’s more bothered about flogging the new console with Kinect than the motion camera add-on itself, which it knows it can sell to early adopters, the kind who’ll pay through the nose for any freshly-released hardware.
There are two problems with this. The first is that the line-up for Kinect is almost exclusively targeted towards a mainstream audience. There’s been precious little shown for serious gamers, who are generally the ones to line up when a new and shiny gadget is launched. £130 could well put off the core gamers who might – at a more reasonable price – have considered taking the plunge. Secondly, £250 still feels a little steep, particularly given the tiny 4GB of flash memory. £200 would perhaps have put the bundle into ‘impulse Christmas buy’ territory. As things stand, MS had better hope its marketing department earns its corn this Christmas.
That said, with Kinect, playing is believing – I was a sceptic, and I’ve since been converted. Bundling the camera with Kinect Adventures is certainly a sensible idea. And if Microsoft can get enough units out there so people can try before they buy, then the public it hopes to attract may well be convinced. Demo units plus Dance Central plus blanket advertising equals success? Maybe.
We are, however, talking about very big ‘if’s here. And with Nintendo set to release Wii Party this Christmas – a multiplayer-centric game which supports four players and doesn’t require a substantial investment in new hardware (and you can bet Nintendo will be savvy enough to point that out as loudly as possible) – Microsoft will have a serious fight on its hands if it wants Kinect to be the motion-control hit of the holiday season.