Hey, Xbox One Kinect Devs! Wake Up!

Posted by | August 25, 2015 | Opinion | No Comments
Xbox one Kinect learning

I’ve been waiting a long time for virtual reality. I mean real virtual reality. The kind you get on a Star Trek Holodeck. This is the kind of virtual reality that almost puts you in another time and place. It lets you see your hands and feet and use your body so you can run around and get in sword fights and stuff. Or you can wear blue skin and feathers and fly. Or you can practice your snowboarding in a simulation of the French Alps.

Virtual reality holds so much potential. All of our beloved fictional worlds could come to life. And we could all practice anything—even parenting—before trying it in the real world on real (little) people. As an avid reader, writer, film buff, parent, and gamer, I can’t think of anything better than that.

Xbox One Kinect

Patrick Stewart playing Captain Picard, playing Dixon Hill in a Holodeck novel in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”

And I thought the Kinect motion device was one of the first steps in that direction. I really did.

But it’s not. There are not many games for the Xbox One Kinect, and the games have been pretty disappointing from the standpoint of creative gameplay. (There’s a lot of dancing and exercising but not much else.)  What happened, Xbox? WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN US?

A quick search of Pixelkin’s Game Picker for games on the Xbox One platform for the Motion genre yields just six games: Dance Central Spotlight, Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, Fruit Ninja, Just Dance 2015, Kinect Sports Rivals, and Shape Up. Two of those games are dancing games and one is essentially an exercise program. Fruit Ninja has you slashing at fruits that come at you. It’s okay but it’s pretty simple. The only game in the list that really uses the gaming potential of the Kinect in a creative way is Fantasia, which is a fantastic game, but come on! It’s the only one!

In May, the head of Microsoft Studios, Phil Spencer, said in an interview with Games Radar that the Kinect “is not abandoned.” Not exactly a commitment, there, Phil. He goes on to say that because the Kinect is not needed for the big huge titles like Halo and Call of Duty, there’s not enough demand for it.

But what about the gamers amongst us who don’t particularly want to play the AAA shooter titles? What about those of us who want to get up off the couch but don’t necessarily want to dance or play a fake sport? Spencer says the Kinect’s “place will be earned through the choices that are out there and the developers that show interest.”

The thing is, there won’t be demand for Kinect games if someone doesn’t make some really good Kinect games.

But I guess there’s hope.  A June article in Polygon quotes Shannon Lofits of Xbox saying that there are “unannounced games” coming from both Microsoft and other developers this fall.

I really hope there are new Xbox One Kinect games coming out, and I hope they’re good and immersive—another step towards virtual reality. Because we want to play games with our families. We want creative games that use the amazing potential of the Kinect to bring us into new virtual worlds—to educate, to entertain, and to get us moving.

Come on, Microsoft and game devs everywhere! We love you, but we’d love you more if you made more great Kinect games like Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved.

Linda Breneman

About Linda Breneman

Linda learned to play video games as a way to connect with her teenaged kids, and then she learned to love video games for their own sake. At Pixelkin she wrangles the business & management side of things, writes posts as often as she can, reaches out on the social media, and does the occasional panel or talk. She lives in Seattle, where she writes, studies, plays video games, spends time with her family, consumes vast quantities of science fiction, and looks after her small cockapoo. She loves to hear from people out there. You can read more about her at her website, Linda Breneman.com or her family foundation's website, ludusproject.org.