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Microsoft announces pricing for Kinect: $150 alone or $300 with the new XBox 360 4GB – Oh, and Felicia Day

The XBox 360 Kinect Bundle - photo courtesy Microsoft

For more then a year we’ve been hearing about and seeing glimpses of Microsoft’s cutting-edge Project Natal that, from the demos we’ve seen, will change interactive game play beyond what the Wii ever did.

In June Microsoft announced a new name for Project Natal, KINECT. Not the best of names but what do you expect from Microsoft.

In case you don’t know what it is, Kinect is a device connected to the XBox 360 that uses cameras and voice recognition to follow and recognize the player and the player’s movements to interact with the game platform

check out the delightful Felecia Day playing with a prototype in June 2010:

In a stunning move from Microsoft, Kinect will work with all models of XBox. This surprised me considering how they love to add new features and formats for things as simple as a document just to get people to upgrade. (Please don’t get me started about the idiotic .docx format)
Microsoft says that Kinect and the Kinect XBOX bundle will be available on November 4th which, in absolutely no surprise to anyone, is in time for the holiday buying season.

The bundle comes with the game Kinect Adventure which Microsoft’s website describes as:

You and your friends and family will jump, dodge, and kick your way through 20 of pulse-pounding adventures set in exotic locations. Work together as you navigate through roaring rapids, challenge obstacle courses or save a leaky underwater laboratory. Show off and share your accomplishments online with Photo Moments and Living Statues.

In a non-surprise announcement Nintendo also recently introduced a new bundle for Wii, teaming its new MotionPlus add-on and a second game with the console hardware for $200. The MotionPlus add on is an expansion gizmo for the Wii Remote game controller which allows it to more accurately capture complex motions and movements. It is some sort of gyroscope supplement to the accelerometer and to the Sensor Bar but all in all, it doesn’t sound like much competition to the Kinect when people see it in action with face recognition but it is a full system for $100 less.

Sony PS3 MOVE controller

Sony PS3 MOVE controller - photo courtesy of Sony

Sony will also enter the fray and package its new Move motion controller with a PlayStation 3 and a game for $400 with that bundle beating them both to market on September 19th. The Move is a camera system and a handheld controller that it tracks. I haven’t seen it in action but it looks like it’s “follow the bouncing blue ball” interactivity.

Now to most people this is a surprise, a positive post about a Microsoft product but from everything I’ve seen, the Kinect (other then the poor name) is a winner. Perhaps this project was kept out of the standard MS design and creation management hands and that’s why it looks like it won’t suck.

It is hard for me to see either of these systems competing against the Kinect when people start to play with them and see what it can do but it will be interesting to see what the hard core gamers chose and if any of these interactive technologies will drive new, non-gamer customers into the game console marketplace like the Wii has.

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