Once again, Microsoft’s latest console came with a version of the Kinect. And once again that version of Kinect has slowly been phased out by Microsoft. Games aren’t really being developed for it and support for it on the dashboard itself is starting to dwindle – Microsoft are slowly making it easier to use the UI without the need for a Kinect. At the beginning, I was using the Kinect a lot to control my Xbox One, but my enthusiasm slowly wavered; particularly after the Kinect broke and I learnt to live without it. Will Microsoft start to give more support to the Kinect, and introduce more Kinect based games (other than the usual suspects of Kinect Sports, fruit ninja style titles and the dancing games). Or will they let it die a death, as they continue to develop and perfect the HoloLens?
I really enjoyed the original Kinect, and I remember seeing the potential in that device. The sports games were fun, but that’s the only game that I truly enjoyed. The new Kinect started quite well, with their updated version of Kinect Sports, but since then very little has come around to convince me of the Kinect’s merits. Fighter Within was a release title with Kinect integration, but that was pretty shocking. It kind of set the tone for Kinect based games this generation, much like Fighters Uncaged did on the Xbox 360. Even as a tool to aid the UI, it’s not exactly worth the money you pay for it. At times it can be quite clunky, and occasionally I found myself using it for the sake of using it, rather than to improve my experience of using my Xbox One.
It makes me wonder whether Microsoft will be supporting the Kinect out of this generation. Will the Xbox Two have a Kinect? I very much doubt it, but if it does I’d imagine it’ll be part of a wider HoloLens experience. No, I think that the relative failure of this updated Kinect has shown that this sort of tech was more of a stepping stone toward greater things. VR and AR are the new kids in town and devices like the Kinect will be a part of those technologies – rather than the technologies themselves.
Whilst this Kinect might not have been as good as we’d hoped, I think that calling it a gimmick would be a tad mean. I feel that tech like the Kinect, or the Wii, or even the EyeToy, were stepping stones for developments toward greater things. They laid the foundation for Virtual Reality, and showed that these sorts of technologies can be more than just gimmicks… even if they do feel a little gimmicky now. Perhaps it’s more of a statement about how far we’ve come, that the Kinect will soon be obsolete, when just five or so years ago it was almost at the pinnacle of gaming tech.
What do you think? Do you believe that the Kinect has a future, or do you think it’s had its last on the Xbox One? Let me know in the comments below!