Could Project Natal Prove Fatal?

posted by on 3rd June 2009, at 7:12pm

Project Natal is what Microsoft believes will revolutionise gaming. In essence Microsoft is trying to capture what the Wii does best, and better it. The ways they are doing it are quite experimental and could make or break the casual market for the 360. The controller will be completely eliminated, effectively breaking the barrier of ‘people who play games and people who don’t’. Natal will bring usually single player games onto a group stage. For example a Formula 1 type game, could incorporate 3 or 4 players. One could be driving, while another performs pit stops for when the driver needs a wheel change or a fuel top up. But is this enough to tap into the market which, Nintendo have dominated since the release of the Wii? We will have to wait until 2010.

This is by far the most revolutionary thing that Microsoft have announced at E3 for a while. This is also the most risky product that Microsoft have offered up to public eyes. The money being invested must be colossal but if it isn’t pulled off correctly could completely ruin the family market’s trust in Microsoft. It is rumoured that Microsoft have already given the tools to developers even though this new method of gaming won’t be available until 2010.

Some of the things about the presentation do look quite comical. For example the likeness to the Wii adverts is inescapable and makes it seems like Microsoft are stooping down to the Wii rather than trying to rise above it. As well as this, the fact that you can make your ‘own personal interactive imaginary friend’ does make me wonder what kind of audience they are looking to appeal to. It’s not like your average gamer wants a CGI friend to accompany them as they brutally murder zombies in Dead Rising 2 or hit a few shots in Tiger Woods 2010.

The scanning in of objects is a very exciting prospect. Games such as Skate or CoD could be revolutionised by peripherals being introduced in a brand new way into gaming. You could buy a kit which let you customise a skateboard which you could then import into Skate to use. CoD could give you more opportunities to customise guns through the whole scanning method.

I think that this presentation from Microsoft is very exciting stuff, but it’s more a case of believe it when I see it. Thanks to Ryan for coming up with the title for me too.

I’m also really sorry if this seems really quickly throw together. I didn’t have much time as I’m busy with school work, but I hope this keeps you appetites for more Informer! articles whetted.

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  • Philip Whitehouse Says:
    4th June 2009, at 2:42am

    To some extents I agree. It’s a very risky idea. Like OnLive, the technology is so far above what we have seen currently, it seems impossible that it will ‘just work’ as the presentations imply.

    Like OnLive, it really would change the face of gaming. True voice recognition (most of them only work if you have the same accent as the lead developer!) has been a goal of Human-Computer Interaction for years.

    In addition some of the demos displayed an almost unbelievable intelligence. Programming the system to recognise so many, often game un-related keywords will be a huge challenge. Ensuring that the game continues to recognise keywords in a changing language will also be complex.

    So yes, there are lots of reasons to be skeptical. Looking positively it’s a huge leap for HCI. Looking negatively and its another E3 promise never realised in reality.

  • Kenny Says:
    5th June 2009, at 4:18pm

    I agree. It’s a shame a lot of these projects never make it off the ground, but I think it’s quite a bold move for Microsoft to present it at such a high profile conference. I wish they’d leave the casual market to the Wii and not bother with motion sensor technology and High School Musical sing-a-long games.

  • Nathalie Keros Says:
    23rd June 2010, at 10:01am

    The Xbox Kinect is more than just a family games console, I meanyou can do a lot more stuff that you can’t do with the Wii. The graphics are better & Wii fanboy or not, you can’t denythe Hard Drive storage on the new Xbox is far superior to the Wii. There is no need for controllers so less battery and recharging cost. If you have a young family like I do, you don’t have to worry about the kids misusing the controllers or dropping them in there juice. One of my fav additions is that Kinectdoes have voice recognition so if the childrenare getting out of order and reality wrestling rather than virtual wrestling you can just screampause and Kinect will pause. Unfortunately this doesn’t generally work with the kids, well not in my house anyway. There is no doubt your whole family will have a lot of fun with the Kinect and it is taking interactive gaming to another level. I have to admit , Microsoft were lagging behind a bit recently in the games console world and it’s about time they stepped up to the plate and with Xbox Kinect, they have done exactly that imho Whether it has bugs or little minor problems remains to be seen and as with all these things, the proof is in the ongoing sales rather than the initial sales onslaught of inquisitive techno-holics who buy any new gadget released.