With talks of discontinuing the Xbox Kinect, it makes one wonder how something so useful lost popularity. In reality, the Kinect is the only reason I bought the Xbox 360. I’m a PC gamer and don’t really get into consoles all that much. So, why do I think the Xbox Kinect died off like it did?
Xbox Kinect and Its Issues
The Xbox Kinect connected people to gaming like never before. Instead of holding onto a controller, your own body movements were integrated within the game. Between its sensor and the built-in microphone, there was a lot of potential behind playing it.
It has incredible benefits for health alone outside of gaming. This is especially beneficial in a society where one-third of its adult populace is considered obese. I’m not saying that all gamers are overweight…but I bet you know a few.
So, why did this wonder tool for gamifying fitness lose momentum?
A Lack of Supporting Titles
It doesn’t matter how innovative the technology is if developers do not support it. One of the reasons why the Xbox Kinect was less than ideal was because of the lack of gaming titles. Sure, there were a handful available – and some of them were actually kind of good. But not enough to drive sales and interest.
This is similar to what happened to Sega and its gaming consoles. Even though the Dreamcast was an amazing piece of engineering, it only had a couple hundred games available in the US. Add in the Sony Playstation which had nearly 1000 at the time and you have a console that experiences less consumer interest.
To top it all off, even the developers creating games for the Xbox Kinect were less than convinced on its success. When “Avengers: Battle for Earth” came out, it was supposed to be a very different game. As a result, a lot of fans were upset and refused to buy the title.
A Lack of Engaging Titles
A lot of the Xbox Kinect games I’ve seen seem to center more around kids. In that regard, I am as disappointed in game makers as I am with Nintendo. The few titles that are available for the Kinect just don’t have that high engagement rate for adults.
Can you imagine what a well-developed Mortal Kombat simulator would be like in the world of Kinect? There are a ton of possibilities, but not enough people to jump on the bandwagon for it.
In the end, it works well as a family-fun-night device but less so for single players who live alone.
Too Much Sharing
I know someone in particular who turns his Kinect the opposite direction because he doesn’t want people to see him watch TV. That’s a little paranoid, if you ask me. If someone is that bored, grab some popcorn because it’s going to be a very dull show if you watch me watch Netflix.
One thing I did notice, though, was the amount of cursing that happens in kids games. For example, I bought the Plants Versus Zombies online game for my then eight and ten-year old daughters so we could all play together. The amount of profanity and people yelling at each other in other languages was just too much.
I suspect it’s a fear consumers have of being subjected to people around the planet. It’s like having some of the most ignorant and troll-minded gamers in the world gathering in your living room. I can understand why some people are against technology that introduces that element.
Not Enough Marketing
When it comes to gaming consoles, specific titles get hellish amounts of advertising. Whether it’s on TV or YouTube, game commercials are quite prevalent. In comparison, the hardware doesn’t receive nearly as much love. And this can be a bad thing in the end.
Microsoft could have marketed the Xbox Kinect as a fitness tool…as long as game developers supported the idea. In fact, I have a few games that center purely around losing weight and being healthy. It’s more engaging than a workout DVD and keeps track of my progress.
Consider this…in the past, I’ve seen more ads for the Blackberry than I ever did for the Kinect.
The Birth of VR and AR
Virtual and Augmented Reality take what the Xbox Kinect was doing and amplifies it one hundred fold. The only downside is that most VR systems are incredibly expensive and tethered to a computer system. The trade-off is a far more immersive experience than what the Kinect offers.
But what about AR? Augmented Reality is gaining a great deal of popularity, especially on hand-held devices like smartphones. Pokemon Go was the catalyst, and now many developers are scrambling to combine the real world with the digital age. You see this every time you use a Snap Chat filter.
In reality, I would jump on-board with a VR headset and gloves if Microsoft put one out for the Xbox…as long as it was wireless. The last thing I want to do is pull a gaming console off of the table to hit the floor while playing a game.
I’m sure It’ll come with a risk assessment like the Nintendo Wii did after people were shattering TVs and overhead lights.
The Laziness of Others
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying gamers are lazy. Although I am for being a PC gamer, I am sure plenty of you Xbox players are in prime condition. However, never underestimate the laziness of others. There is a reason why one-third of the populace is obese.
A large number of console gamers like the idea of relaxing in a chair, headset adorning their ears and gunning down a friend across the globe with controller in hand. To be honest, console gaming is good for hand-eye coordination. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much in the way of cardio.
What’s Next for Healthy Gaming?
For now, I’ll still use the Xbox Kinect for health and fitness. After all, it helped me drop the first 40 pounds playing tennis every other day. In the mean time, I’ll keep my eye out for something that is as effective at engaging the body as well as the mind.
Health and fitness shouldn’t be boring, but manufacturers need to support gamifying it.