Technology giant Microsoft unveiled a bundled version of its Xbox 360 gaming console along with Kinect, the company’s motion sensitive sensor that allows users to play games and interact with the device controller free. The Special Edition Xbox 360 250GB with Kinect, which goes on sale Nov. 4, was announced at the Tokyo Game Show. The package includes the Xbox 360 250GB console, a Kinect sensor and the game “Kinect Adventures” for $399.99.
The console boasts 802.11n built-in Wi-Fi, an internal removable 250GB hard drive and touch sensitive controls. The company said more than 15 games are launching with Kinect, including a variety of sports games as well as health and fitness games similar to the ones offered by Nintendo for its motion sensitive Wii console.
The Kinect sensor plugs directly into the Xbox 360 console and contains a camera, audio sensors and motion-sensing technology that tracks 48 points of movement on the human body. Microsoft described Kinect as able to perform full-motion tracking of the human body at 30 frames per second, regardless of what the user is wearing or what objects surround the user in the home environment.
In July, the company announced the Xbox 360 4GB console and the Kinect sensor and “Kinect Adventures” packaged together for $299.99. The bundle, which went on sale Aug. 3, also featured the game “Kinect Adventures”. The Xbox 360 4GB includes built-in WiFi N, 4GB of internal flash memory, touch-sensitive buttons and a black matte finish.
While Microsoft is pitching the Kinect experience as the future of home entertainment, the company is also playing catch-up with Nintendo; the motion-sensitive Wii has been hugely influential not just in how gamers play, but the very definition of who a potential gamer is. The third major player in the console wars, Sony, is also moving forward with a motion-sensitive component of its PlayStation 3 (PS3) console. The Move is an upcoming motion-sensing game controller platform formerly called the PlayStation Motion Controller, which acts like a cross between Nintendo’s Wiimote and Sony’s PlayStation Eye Webcam.
At the E3 video game conference in June, Nintendo and Sony’s computer entertainment division rolled out technologies aimed at pushing the boundaries of 3D gaming and motion-sensitive gaming experiences. Nintendo announced a list of upcoming games for Nintendo 3DS, a portable console Nintendo claimed lets users view games in 3D without the need for special glasses, while Sony announced it would release the Move motion controller for the PS3 on Sept. 19 in the United States.
The efforts of Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony to invigorate hardware sales, software sales and accessory sales-in the face of competing entertainments such as 3D television-comes at a time when the video game industry has been struggling for months. Despite a 12-percent surge in hardware sales in July, led by the Xbox 360’s strong performace (443,500 units sold), the industry trended downward again, off one percent from the same period in 2009 and down eight percent year-to-date, to $7.5 billion, compared with $8.2 billion in July 2009.