Why Kinect will fail: the 'housewife factor'

Microsoft is aiming Kinect at the casual, non-gaming crowd -- a potentially grievous error

Families like this will make-or-break Kinect for Xbox 360...

Families like this will make-or-break Kinect for Xbox 360...

It's official: Kinect is for kids and housewives.

As if we needed any further proof that Kinect isn't for gamers, Microsoft has elected to showcase the product on Oprah and The Ellen DeGeneres Show — neither of which is especially renowned for its hard-hitting games coverage.

This month, the queens of talk TV will both spruik Kinect for Xbox 360 to a legion of perplexed housewives, starting with Oprah Winfrey on 19 October. Presumably, a wacky demonstration will ensue, followed by an audience giveaway amid much boisterous hooting.

Update: Turns out we were right on the money…

But anyway. It would seem Microsoft is aiming Kinect squarely at mums and their precocious offspring — as opposed to the mature gaming fraternity that helped build its console business.

[Discover how Kinect for Xbox 360 fares against its motion control rivals, the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation Move at the following link: Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii.]

Everything we have seen thus far points to this sad conclusion: from the family-friendly launch line-up to the relentlessly cheerful ad campaign.

Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii

Kinect: y'know, for kids...

When you consider that the average age of a gamer is 30, Microsoft's belated courtship of the casual and kiddie markets is all the more perplexing. In stark contrast, Sony is aiming the PlayStation Move at both camps, with games that cater to both mainstream and 'hardcore' audiences. (Hell, even Killzone 3 is getting Move support.)

Perhaps this non-gamer gamble will pay off for Microsoft, but we don't remain very hopeful.

Various retailers are already tipping Move to outsell Kinect in the impending motion controller war. In the words of Gametraders' national marketing manager, Rob Jenkins: "Based on store feedback, the Move is going to be bigger than the Kinect. ...I think the Kinect is a bit clunky and I don’t think it will work properly, so I think the Move will have a better initial push and will be received better.”

Clunky? Strong words.

Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii

Behold the horror of Kinectimals...

Games distributor AFA Interactive, which will be distributing the Move and the Kinect to its network of 500 independent retailers, shares a similar opinion.

“The feeling we are getting from a lot of our customers is the Move will be more successful than the Kinect,” AFA product and marketing manager, Karl Vosgerau, said. “[The Move] will be much more realistic and responsive, whereas Kinect is completely driven by your body. From what we’re told — it sounds like this can really limit what the possibilities are [for gameplay].”

Compounding matters is the cost of the device. The Kinect will retail for $199, while the Move Starter pack (which consists of a PlayStation Eye camera, a Move controller and a demo disc) sells for around half that price. When you consider that Microsoft is going after mum's Christmas dollar, the price difference is surely worrying. Fact is, no matter how 'kid-friendly' Kinect for Xbox 360 may seem, $200 is still $200.

Meanwhile, the PlayStation Move is also courting families with titles such as Sports Champions, TV Superstars, Start The Party! and EyePet Move Edition -- along with a swag of grittier fare for dads and older brothers.

Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii

PlayStation Move — not just for kids.

We can appreciate why Microsoft went down this route -- it paid dividends for Nintento after all. But the fact remains that most Xbox 360 owners simply aren't interested in casual/party games. If they were, they would have bought a Wii. By turning its back on hardcore gamers, Microsoft may have shot itself in the foot. Unfortunately for them, Kinect does not support one-legged players.

Read other gaming articles on GGG:

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