Microsoft’s motion-sensing game system Kinect for Xbox 360 will hit European retail stores before Christmas, the company said, as it battles for customers with rivals Sony and Nintendo.
Microsoft’s Kinect – previously known as Project Natal – uses a camera, connected to an Xbox 360 games console, to track the movement of players. Unlike Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s forthcoming Move system, Kinect can plot this movement, and translate it in to on-screen action, without the need for a controller.
Xbox will transform entertainment at home and on the go this year with Kinect for Xbox 360 officially launching in Europe, Middle East and Africa on November 10 opening up a new world of controller-free games and Xbox Live entertainment.
Xbox Live and a blockbuster line up of games on Windows Phone 7 will also launch this holiday and Microsoft announced a new line up of LIVE enabled titles coming to the PC.
Gamescom 2010 is the European premiere of Kinect for Xbox 360, introducing millions more to the intuitive freedom of being controller-free.
The show will unveil new games and experiences demonstrating the depth and breadth of the launch lineup of more than 15 exclusive Kinect titles, including never-before-seen levels, new environments, achievements and characters for “Kinect Sports,” “Kinect Adventures,” “Kinectimals” and “Kinect Joyride.”
Speaking before the show, Chris Lewis, vice president, Interactive Entertainment Business, Microsoft Europe said: “We are bringing the Kinect experience to Europe for the first time at Gamescom because this is the biggest show in the region and we’re committed to investing in Europe and the critical role it plays in Xbox’s global success.”
“When Kinect launches on November 10, it’s not just transformative for our business but its set to change how you use entertainment. You become the controller, giving you the choice in how you and your friends navigate entertainment and gaming experiences. We’re already seeing a high level of anticipation in Europe with sales of the Kinect ready Xbox 360 250GB creating an all-time record weekly market share,” he added.
“This is also the year of expansion for Xbox 360; in terms of new audiences, new markets for Xbox LIVE and multiple platforms. With Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone 7 we are bringing the quality, consistency and community of the Xbox experience to gamers on the go.”
Chris Lewis continued: “With ‘Age of Empires Online’, ‘Fable III’ and new games still in development we’re also bringing, social, connected gaming experiences to all new audiences on the PC.”
“When you look at what we are bringing to the market this year with the magic of Kinect, alongside our blockbuster line-up of games, including the biggest game for 2010, ‘Halo: Reach’, we’re confident that Xbox 360 has something for all the family and will be the gaming and entertainment console of 2010 and beyond,” he added.
A spokeswoman said Microsoft would sell the European version of Kinect for 149.99 euros ($192.1), compared with a retail price of $149.99 in the United States and will include the launch title ‘Kinect Adventures’.
Microsoft hopes to steal customers from the rival Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3 as all three big console makers struggle to breathe new life into the ailing console market. Motion-controlled gaming is one of the industry’s big hopes.
According to research firm iSuppli, unit shipments of video game consoles are expected to fall by 7.5 percent to 48.2 million by 2013. Video game producers such as Electronic Arts also see the new motion-controlled devices as reigniting the $60 billion video game hardware and software industry.
Sony earlier this year announced Move, its motion-controlled feature for the PlayStation 3, which will hit European stores on September 15. Unlike Kinect, Move employs a wand-like game controller, similar to that of Nintendo’s Wii, which revolutionized motion-controlled gaming about four years ago.
Nintendo will be watching with interest to see how consumers react to the two new gaming systems; the Japanese games giant kick-started the motion-sensing gaming revolution four years ago with the launch of the Nintendo Wii, which has sold more than 74 million consoles around the world to date, though sales have slowed in recent months. [Xbox via Engadget and Reuters]