There are plenty of video games that work great in groups. Mario Party, Guitar Hero, and LittleBigPlanet all have multiplayer options and can be a great way for teens (or adults) to spend time together at a party. But video games are almost always limited by the number of players who can participate at one time. Watching your friend play Assassin’s Creed can be a blast, but there’s nothing like playing a game yourself to turn a first-time viewer into a long-time consumer.
Microsoft designers were well aware of this when they began planning their Xbox One console. The new version of the Kinect is designed to be a must-have for party gaming. Unrestricted by controllers, the Kinect for Xbox One can accommodate six active players at a time. And the Xbox One version of Just Dance 2014 can engage even more players at once by using the Kinect in tandem with Xbox One’s SmartGlass mobile app. With SmartGlass, non-dancing players have the option to become the “Party Master.” This player can interact with the dancers by changing the song or dance moves mid-game.
But why does this matter? As Polygon’s Colin Campbell puts it, “in the reality of parties, doing something that everyone else is doing, like dancing or throwing up or stealing the crockery, is always easier than doing anything that will make you stand out.” With the number of players Xbox is now able to engage, not playing will be the lame thing to do.
While many consoles today are designed with a heavy emphasis on online social networking, this new design feature from Kinect is angled to take advantage of the player’s pre-existing social groups. Just Dance 2014 does have an online multiplayer mode (“World Dance Floors”), but Microsoft’s push to extend the number of active players is reflective of their overall mission with the new Xbox: they want their console to become part of the family. That means making it seamlessly integrate with the activities you were already planning, like watching TV or hanging out at a party.
Not sure you’re ready to shake your booty in front of all your friends? At least now you can rest easy knowing that they’ll be shaking it right there with you.