Kinect was a line of motion sensing input devices that was produced by Microsoft for Xbox 360 and Xbox One video game consoles and Microsoft Windows PCs. Based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral, it enabled users to control and interact with their console/computer without the need for a game controller, through a natural user interface using gestures and spoken commands.
Microsoft officially stopped production of the Kinect in 2017 under Phil Spencer's leadership.
Why It Flopped
- Most of the game genres on Kinect were extremely repetitive, as they were either mini-game compilations or focused on training or dancing.
- In addition, a lot of games were given mixed reviews, and a few but some were poorly received.
- The Kinect was also a poorly designed accessory: it has a slight delay in the controls and can very easily lose track of the player's position, which made the games harder than they could've been.
- It already struggles to track one player, and tracking two players at once is even harder.
- Before the Kinect was released, during the 2009 E3 in which the "WELL BAM there it is" phrase became a meme. It had tracking issues even worse than the original release, as shown in the video Kudo's avatar was shown to move unnaturally and spaz out.
- Menu navigation with the Kinect is often tedious due to voice commands that barely work at times.
- It failed miserably at trying to introduce players to a realistic experience. Even virtual reality (VR) headsets are doing better on the market than the Kinect.
- Rather than utilizing a controller with motion detection, players "are the controller". Some games like Sonic Free Riders could've simply made it optional but made it mandatory for play instead.
- Unlike the Wii and other motion accessories like the EyeToy for PlayStation 2, it requires a lot of free space in order to be used, forcing players to move around furniture every time they use it. This becomes worse in houses with small living rooms and borderline impossible for people who have it in their bedrooms.
- While playing, it often takes photos of the player (even if you don't want to be taken a photo), such as Kinect Adventures! and Kinect Party.
- It was very expensive despite its horrible quality, with prices ranging from $150 to $299 dollars.
- To make matters worse, it was infamously planned to be mandatory for the Xbox One. And despite the plans for the Kinect to be required for Xbox One thankfully being cancelled, it was still originally shipped with every new Xbox One. This led to the Xbox One being a less powerful console at a higher price than its main competition, the PlayStation 4. Though Microsoft eventually started to sell Xbox One consoles without Kinect, it was little too late, as this mistake gave the PlayStation 4 a clear advantage early in the 8th generation.
- It can't function properly if sunlight blocks it, or if the light is turned off.
- It is highly similar to the Xbox Live Vision Camera, a tiny but feature-packed webcam for the 360 that came out around 2006. Meaning that Microsoft sold a bulky, expensive webcam that had the same tech 4 years prior except with motion sensors.
- The original model Xbox 360 and the Xbox One S and Xbox One X cannot use their respective version of the Kinect natively, requiring an adapter to give the Kinect external power. Also, if you have the Wi-Fi adapter for the original Xbox 360, the Kinect requires the use of the rear USB port, forcing the use of an extension cable to connect the Wi-Fi adapter to one of the front USB ports.
- Although it did sell 35 million units which made it look like an obvious success, Microsoft spent $500 million to advertise the Kinect across the world, and many of these were sold with a bundle with the 360/One.
- It does a good job at making players do some exercise.
- Some good games, like Kinect Sports, Kinect Adventures The Gunslinger and the Dance Central trilogy. Others such as Forza Motorsport 4, Forza Horizon and Mass Effect 3 still used this technology well despite the Kinect's issues.
- The Xbox One version greatly improves the motion tracking and doesn't need as much space to work, even if not all that many games make use of it.
- It can work on PC normally and through a multi-Kinect set up is great for low-budget motion capture.
At launch the Xbox 360 Kinect received positive reviews for its games and features, but the Kinect's popularity quickly declined within the next year due to the aformentioned issues.
The Xbox One's Kinect received mixed reviews, with praise going for its improvement over the 360 Kinect but criticism over the lack of good games for it.
Microsoft considers the Kinect a failure now to the point that not only did they discontinue the Kinect, but they also released the Xbox One S and Xbox One X without a dedicated connector for the Kinect, requiring an adapter. However, even with said adapter, the Kinect now only works with games, since revisions of the Xbox One operating system have completely removed Kinect support in the Dashboard update and has not been reinstated in any later revision of the software, nor its successor, the Xbox Series X|S.
While the Kinect is deemed a failure for Microsoft in the gaming sector, it surprisingly found a home in the academic and commercial sector. Discovering this, Microsoft took some of their Xbox 360 (and later Xbox One) stock and marketed as Kinect for Windows, as well as releasing a free development kit for it online as well.
- After the head of Xbox Phil Spencer killed the Xbox Kinect line, Microsoft redesigned it and released the Azure Kinect, a developer-class AI depth camera that is meant to be a developer tool rather than a gaming peripheral.