Microsoft Kinect: Will Hardcore Games Work?

Microsoft Kinect: Will Hardcore Games Work?

Microsoft’s Kinect has captured the hearts and flailing limbs of casual players, but hardcore gamers still need to be sold on the wonders of controller-free gaming.

There’s a bit of cynicism surrounding the idea that Kinect and the PlayStation Move can possibly appeal to traditionalists, but there’s also a way to budge that cynicism: Develop a must-have core game that utilizes motion controls.

As it so happens, Microsoft might be at work on that. The company has established “Microsoft Vancouver,” formerly named Zipline Studios. The studio (which is hiring) describes itself as being “dedicated to making games for ‘core’ gamers. Our mission is to push the limits of proven and unexplored game development and show the world what’s possible on Microsoft’s game consoles.” Microsoft Vancouver’s website also specifies that it’s aiming to share resources and knowledge with Vancouver’s BigPark Studios, the developers of JoyRide for the Kinect.

What’s it all mean? According to some digging around done by a NeoGAF forum member, the resume of one of Zipline Studios’ original team members indicates that the re-branded studio is now focusing on developing a “core AAA shooter experience using Kinect.”

Until Microsoft reveals that it has a studio set up to make core Kinect games (maybe at E3?), we can only guess at what the company is up to. That said, an entire studio at work on a core Kinect game is an intriguing prospect. Will it be enough to encourage traditionalists to hook themselves up to a Kinect?

One game probably won’t be enough to make every shooter fan open his or her wallet, but if it’s a decent game that’s fun to play, it’ll definitely sow intrigue. If a couple more Kinect-exclusive core games win critical favor beyond that, core gamers may well be encouraged to spend their next windfall on a Kinect and a copy of Cool Shooter A and Cool Shooter B.

But if Microsoft is serious about attracting core gamers to Kinect, it might have to take a stand and not offer any compromises. SOCOM 4 for the PlayStation 3 gives players a chance to utilize a traditional controller or Playstation Move. Most core gamers, probably feeling a bit burnt out by the inaccuracies that came with aiming the pre-MotionPlus Wii remote at the screen for too many years, opt for the old way. That’s understandable on the part of Sony (which doesn’t want to alienate the audience SOCOM 4 was developed for) and on the part of core gamers (who are gun-shy about motion controls, pardon the expression).

However, motion controls are still a key part of gaming hardware and culture. They’re not going away, and despite a relatively clumsy start, they still hold a lot of potential for accenting a gaming experience. It might be up to Microsoft to say, “Hey, try this game with Kinect. You’ll love it! We promise!” What’ll happen from that point is anyone’s guess, but it could be the start of something fun.

If there is indeed a shooter in the works from Microsoft Vancouver, we hope there’s also a plan in place for giving players a “real gun.” Sony’s Kevin Butler wasn’t far off with his criticism of Kinect in one aspect; nobody above the age of six wants to run around pretending that their finger is a gun.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

1 Comments

  1. I play games to relax and have fun. “Moving” is not part of that.

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