Kinect Flaw

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.

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5 comments

  1. As far as I’m concerned, this is a major misstep based on bonkers market research.

    The market is so different now compared to when the Wii was launched (so many casuals “burned” on that console, for one thing), and at £130 Microsoft is really going to struggle.

    Aaron Greenberg, the Xbox Product Director, knows this. Note the very psychologically interesting answer to EG’s question about the price: “We obviously don’t make pricing decisions without doing our research. We’ve done a number of pricing studies on a global scale across a whole variety of audience segments. When we talked to consumers about the different types of experiences you get with Kinect, we found that that sensor with the full game at $149 does quite well.”

    QUITE well. QUITE well. That’s the smoking gun, ladies and gents. He doesn’t fully believe in the strategy himself.

  2. True. You want a pricing strategy that gets people excited, not that “does quite well”. It’s a worry. Obviously the number-crunchers have suggested they can’t go any lower. But especially over here it feels too expensive.

  3. Sure it will get off to a slow start, but everything does. Remember the PS3 debuting at almost $1000? The Kinect is a major development and it will become huge.

  4. I think for children who already own a 360. Combined with the success of the Wii. Parents tend to get “one” big present and at £130 I see the Kinect filling that role quite well. If it can be marketed as a must have family entertainment device it will sell easily.

    I just hope everyone has a big enough lounge/bedroom for it.


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