Microsoft formally lifted the lid on Kinect on Sunday night and demoed a whole bunch of launch titles for the device at its pre-E3 conference on Monday. We caught up with Neil Thompson, Senior Regional Director, Northern Europe, Entertainment & Devices Division, Microsoft Corporation, to discuss the reaction core gamers have had to the reveal, the possibilities Kinect offers and how it stacks up to PlayStation Move.
Q: During your conference you went big on Kinect and its casual-focused launch titles. Were you expecting a negative reaction from core gamers as a result?
Neil Thompson: When you look at what we outlined with Halo: Reach and Gears of War, what we're doing with Call of Duty for the next three years and a lot of the new franchises that we showed a glimpse to today with Kingdoms and other things, I'm hoping the core gamers feel we're still offering amazing gaming experiences. And, you know, Metal Gear Solid, all of those elements we demonstrated today I'm hoping resonate with what we would call our traditional audience maybe.
Kinect was obviously a big part of what we had to talk about in the last two days because it is a transformational thing. It is going to change the way people interact with technology and how you get different types of people to interact with technology. My view is gaming enthusiasts get enthusiastic around great innovative technology. A lot of the games we have for Kinect, although they're easy to get involved in and start playing, they also have some great depth we think the person that loves good deep rich gaming experiences will also enjoy. So as people get to know more about what these games have to offer they'll resonate more deeply with them than maybe they see at the moment.
Q: Is it no more complicated than to say, if it's got shooting in it then the hardcore will like it, and because we didn't see any shooting games on Kinect there is scepticism from core gamers?
NT: I give our customers more credit than that. I don't think they're so one dimensional that it's just about shooting. I think they love great gaming experiences and great entertainment experiences. That's what I think Kinect is going to bring. It also allows that community to maybe have gaming experiences with other members of the family and other friends that traditional gaming interaction via a control pad doesn't necessarily offer.
I just encourage people to explore and investigate what we have to offer and then come to some conclusions, because I think it's amazing. I play a lot of first-person shooter content. I'm a big Modern Warfare fan, a big Halo fan, I play Gears a lot, traditionally, but I love other types of content as well. Sometimes with some games I do find it hard to get into certain types of content because the controller mechanisms just aren't something I'm used to, because I'm so drilled in the FPS stuff. This offers people a great opportunity to get involved in other things.
Q: We were hoping to see more from Lionhead during your conference. Milo and Kate and also Kinect integration with Fable III - what happened there? Is it a long way off now? Is Kinect integration with Fable III happening? Peter Molyneux has said it will be in the game.
NT: Knowing Peter [Molyneux], he will be investigating every creative opportunity he can investigate, because that's what he's about. What we showed with Fable III today is where the core of that game is going and the sort of experience that that game is going to offer. I'm sure as we go forward with all sorts of games Kinect integration is going to become a part of lots of different types of franchises in the future.
I would treat what we've talked about today as the starting point of what we're offering with this technology. It's not an end point. It's just the beginning. There's going to be a lot of evolution over time in terms of how this gets built into different gaming experiences.
Q: Fable III is coming out this year. Will Kinect integration be in it?
NT: What Peter showed today, it wasn't part of it, so I'm not necessarily expecting it to be part of it. We'll just have to wait and see what Lionhead Studios... where they develop and how they develop and where and when they'll want to integrate this sort of technology into their products.
Q: When will we see more of Milo and Kate?
NT: Again, it's probably a question you'll need to direct to Peter and how he's thinking of the development process. He'll have some very clear ideas as to the way he wants to take the type of integration that Milo and Kate alluded to at last year's E3 and subsequently. He'll be developing products around that idea. He'll have a better idea probably of when he thinks he can mould that into something that he wants to bring to market. It'll need to be at its creative best for him to get to that point because he is a perfectionist about what he does.
Q: Can you give us an indication of how much will Kinect cost in the UK?
NT: Not at this point. We haven't announced any pricing detail. We will do obviously as we get closer to launch.
Q: When will it be launched in the UK?
NT: They announced November 4 in the US. I expect it to launch in the UK during November at some point. We'll announce a more specific date as we get closer to it.