It has become clear that Kinect is important to Microsoft. At E3 2010 they did not seem to want to hold back one bit in order to get Kinect to the gathered press. How will Microsoft go forward? And which gamers are they targeting? What is the role of Wii and PlayStation in this story? These and other questions are answered by a short analysis of Microsoft’s strategy related to Kinect by our guest writer James Foti.
The video games market is currently expanding into many different segments thanks to the Nintendo Wii; no longer is gaming targeted towards the 13-40 Male consumer. There is the 60+ elderly market who love to get active by playing Wii bowling or the 30-50 range that are losing weight by using Nintendo peripheral’s such as Wii fit. Both Sony and Microsoft must applaud Nintendo for expanding a previously narrow market. With Nintendo monopolising these market segments, Microsoft and Sony have been quick to react. Microsoft is introducing a camera that can track your body movements without the need to hold anything in your hand, whilst Sony are going down a similar path to Nintendo by offering motion controllers.
Casual all the way
There is no doubt that Microsoft is after the casual market. This newly developed market has massive potential and is worth millions to Microsoft. Microsoft revealed the Kinect brand at E3 this year, and for the first time ever, it was broadcast in Times Square for everyone to see. Furthermore, they commissioned a show by the exquisite Cirque du Soleil to show of Kinect, which was also broadcasted on MTV. These communication channels are not commonly used in the video game industry to show off new hardware. By broadcasting their E3 press conference live via Times Square, it indicates that they want Kinect to entice the casual gamer into the Xbox experience. However, is this the right group to target? The marketing manager of Xbox recently said “I think we know that hardcore gamers will be the first to go out and buy it, as they are with any product”. This statement underlines their intentions to push Kinect onto the hardcore game,r but the thing is, none of the software for Kinect will appeal to them. Casual games such as Kinect Sports or Kinectimals will never be a system seller for the hardcore gamer. In fact, until Microsoft releases a Kinect game that the hardcore can get excited about, then chances are they will hold off on purchasing the product. Microsoft built its brand on offering a hardcore experience and it might be unwise to neglect them.
The pricing of Kinect has become a hot talking point in recent weeks. Although not confirmed, it has been widely regarded that the price of Kinect will be around $150 [official now, not at the time of writing]. Compared to the Nintendo Wii ($180) the value of Kinect could seem very poor. Why would the consumer, who currently owns a Nintendo Wii, part with a significant amount of money to purchase a peripheral that is essentially a very similar product? Microsoft needs to create a value proposition that warrants the $150 price tag and controller free gaming could be the answer.