Microsoft reflects on Kinect

Q&A: Xbox group product manager singles out Dance Central, Your Shape as strong third-party sellers for motion-sensing system, says he feels good about camera's Japanese debut.

Today, the industry-tracking NPD Group released its US retail sales figures for the month of November, which showed the Xbox 360 to be the best-selling console in the country for the sixth month running. That run started with the unveiling of the redesigned Xbox 360 at June's Electronic Entertainment Expo and was bolstered by last month's debut of the heavily hyped Kinect motion-sensing camera peripheral.

Dance Central is one of the Kinect's best-selling third-party titles.

Microsoft's group product manager for Xbox, David Dennis, took time to talk with GameSpot today about the system's run atop the charts, the Kinect's retail debut, and third-party appraisals of the peripheral's performance. Dennis also addressed how the camera fared upon its launch in Japan, a market Microsoft has struggled to succeed in ever since the original Xbox's release.

GameSpot: How are the Kinect software attach rates looking?

David Dennis: They're good. I don't have an exact number. Our data guys are still poring over everything, and attach is one of those ones that's not right there. You need to do some calculating to parse out Kinect games versus others. In general, we've got quite a few of the Kinect games in the top 15-ish overall, so we feel really good about just the general basket attach we saw overall at retail.

GS: Of the 1.4 million 360s that were sold, do you know how many were Kinect bundles?

DD: We do, but that's not a number we break out. That's just a historical thing. We just never have. We've never said, "this many Arcades," "this many Elites…"

GS: Can you say anything about the ratio of first-party software sales to third-party sales?

DD: I haven't actually seen that data come through from the guys chewing over the NPD stuff. But the feedback I've heard anecdotally from third parties was that getting to 2.5 million in the first 25 days blew their expectations away. For third parties, it's all about the installed base and how many people out there would be wanting to pick up your software. So if you built a Kinect-specific game for launch--I think to see that we've invested to the level we have and moved 2.5 million units--I think third parties are generally pretty excited about the potential for Kinect. And you'll see that reflected in the sales for third-party games.

Microsoft Game Studios built four of the titles--some were second-party published by us, and some were pure third party. Some we knew were going to be breakout successes, like Dance Central and some of the games we've showcased at our various events over the last year and a half or so. In general, I'd say we feel really great about the momentum we've got fueled by Kinect and the catalyst for growth it's pushed for us this holiday.

Dennis also mentioned Ubisoft's Your Shape as a strong seller.

GS: Were there any games that surprised you with how well they did?

DD: No, I think our guys that manage the third-party portfolio have a pretty good gut for what's going to be a big success and what may be just an OK game. I think the games we saw showcased--Dance Central or Your Shape by Ubisoft--I think generally those have been the highest-performing games, because our team certainly has a good eye for it.

GS: This makes six months at the top of the console hardware race. You've been on top before, so how long do you expect this run to last?

DD: Well, I would sort of flip that and say I don't see any reason why it wouldn't continue. For us, it's about continuing to innovate and bring new experiences to the platform through Live, bringing Netflix, Facebook, ESPN… We're always talking to partners about ways we can bring other types of entertainment experiences, as well as reinvent the platform overall so it continues to feel fresh and new. And you couple those Live services with amazing games. The more services, games, and experiences you bring to a platform, the more reasons you give people to buy it, but also to turn it on day after day. To the extent we can continue to do what we're doing, I think the trajectory is poised to continue.

Obviously, because of the [NPD] rules, I'm not able to give out anybody else's numbers, but I can say we're the only console showing double-digit growth. We feel great about where we're at, and we wouldn't trade places with anyone at this point.

GS: Do you expect the 3DS launch to have any impact on console sales when it comes out?

DD: Obviously, you're looking at share of wallet. And I think a lot of it comes down to what the games are that are coming with it. It's a steeper price point than the regular DS was, so we'll see. We've got some folks on our team here who are former Nintendo folks, and it's interesting talking to them at the watercooler. What they've said is that typically a handheld purchase is an individual decision, where a console is more of a family decision. So the consumer purchase behavior goes through very different approvals and blessings needed.

GS: I know the Japanese market has been problematic for the Xbox since the original system launched there. How's the Kinect faring in Japan so far?

DD: It's good. It's doing as expected. Obviously, it's a challenging market. We continue to invest there and feel good about where it's at. And I would say Kinect is mirroring as we had expected to do based on the installed base there. They had a solid launch from everything I was able to see and observe. The team there feels very confident in what they're bringing to market with the games and experiences specific to the Japan market. So we'll see. I haven't seen hard numbers, but I know anecdotally the team feels pretty good about it.

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Discussion

98 comments
Flat_Line_____
Flat_Line_____

I can't wait for that first BIG title that finally sets the Kinect apart from anything else that has ever been done, (I expect within this next year.) So then finally most of this BS comparison crap can stop... Of course, it will never fully stop, either because of blind ignorance or because of brand loyalty. But when that first big game does come out,(No matter what it is) it will probably better than I could say about almost all the Wii games combined... And then we will have so many years to come that we can expect even greater titles. Ooh... I can feel the heat already from all the waggle fans. Plz don't hurt me!

blackace
blackace

@Sulaymanqazi2 kinect copies playstion eye for ps2 ************************************************************ Sign.. "No." The 'Move' is more of a copy of the "Wii" then Kinect is of the "EyeToy". I don't remember the EyeToy having 3 cameras or doing voice recognition in games or menus. The EyeToy didn't do full body recognition or scan objects into their games. There are a lot of differences between Kinect and EyeToy.

Gov1
Gov1

Everyone appears to have forgotten that they promised Kinect would sell for under £100?

lithus
lithus

I'm sure we'll all be reflecting on Kinect someday...like six months from now..................................................................................................... Guy #1 looking at Guy #2's entertainment shelf "Say, is that some sort of DVR?" Guy#2. With an ashamed sigh "nope, that's the Kinect we brought last year." Guy#1. "Any fun?" Guy#2. "Yup, for the first few days...just sucks that we have to be drunk to have any fun playing it." Guy#1. "But I thought you quit drinking?" Guy#2. "I did, that's why it's collecting dust next to the Wii" *Both Guys sigh*

Javier
Javier

Im happy with the Kinect experience I have had this far. And every time I see someone creating a cool hack makes me excited on all this potential transformed into a cool game.

MotoBomberXX17
MotoBomberXX17

It seems as if there are some pretty interesting Kinect exclusives coming out next year, I'm looking forward to Codename D and Project Draco.

jcapo14
jcapo14

i want to know what new games are coming in 2011....

DuaneDog
DuaneDog

When Microsoft opens up the Kinect SDK to the inde developers I think we will see some very creative things. I also could imagine this thing being pretty big in Japan with the Dance Central and titles like those. They kind of go ape crazy for those kinds of things.

smbius
smbius

@Tennies07 - I agree with you that there is potential for Kinect but I don't think part of the potential is going to be bringing in current genres like FPS. I think Developers of Kinect need to be more imaginative. One potential title I see is Child of Eden.

Blitz_Kill
Blitz_Kill

Please Nintendo, allow Kinect the rights to No More Heroes! I'd love to see videos of kids everywhere recharging their beam sabers and the horrified parents in the background just watching on in pure horror :P

XAF1
XAF1

I will say that I love my Kinect and am eager to see what developers worldwide can do to tap it's possibilities. I don't expect quality games out of every developer but I am sure that some will shine more than others as with some Nintendo Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. I don't think that the Kinect is for everyone---just as the Wii wasn't and the Move might not be---but for those looking for something different I think, the Move and Kinect offer that, just as the Wii did for casual gamers. Those individuals happy with things where they are have nothing to worry about. Developers/publishers will never throw out their cash cows but some will amaze us with what they can achieve when given the hardware and a chance to prove themselves.

Tennies07
Tennies07

Well I'm a PS3 owner, not here to degrade the 360 or Kinect mind you, and I got to say I really see some potential with the Kinect. Might just be me but I think Microsoft could make some really solid sports games for the Kinect that would really put you into the game. I'd also like to see some developers give an FPS a try because if that could be done successfully it would evolve the entire gaming world to a level I thought I would not see. As for the current line up I feel like it's a little bit weak, same goes for the Move at least in my opinion. Overall though I really think Microsoft is on to something but at the same time I feel like there needs to be some more titles released first.

Blitz_Kill
Blitz_Kill

Working at Gamestop, I sell Kinect systems like hotcakes. Yet I will admit that the titles, aside from Dance Central ( which is basically just a clone of Just Dance with added motions) and Michael Jackson the Experience, are all just very simple tech demos without actually achieving anything worthwhile. I saw somebody beat Fighers Uncaged by pawing like a cat for half an hour. Hopefully when Forza 4 comes out, it will impress me.

Gov1
Gov1

I want oblivion on the kinect!

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

well i got it and quite like it, am very suprised at the low latency rate, as its actually very accurate. Although we are currently seeing the usual amount of the expected plethora of gimmicky games, the potential is definately there for Devs to tap into. Personally im looking forward to a really good RTS or RPG, whereby i can simply direct and plan battles simply by moving my hands around ala Minority Report : ) Its only a matter of time before we begin to see devs really beginning to harness this technology.

BimboShaggins
BimboShaggins

I'm just hoping developers still focus on normal games and not this bogus

digi-demon
digi-demon

Hoping the Kinect titles improve dramatically then it may be worth considering. Oh btw I will be looking to buy two 3DS's - one each for both me and my missus :D 3DS.... too good to share HaHa ;)

-expletive-
-expletive-

this guy says so little in so many words

jcapo14
jcapo14

last week i bought a kinect and i have so much fun with it. its a surprise of what you can do with it....... its the best nowadays!!!!!

blackace
blackace

@RunRickyRun @dynomitemast comments like yours are the reason so much of the world hates Americans. Thanks for making the rest of us look bad. You forgot to mention the Xbox and the Xbox360 have been a complete failure in Europe and the rest of the world as well selling well exclusively in the U.S., but I'm sure that doesn't matter to you because in your opinion the rest of the world doesn't matter. ******************************************************** XBox 360 is far from being a failure in Europe. Have you even done any research on the numbers? The XBox 360 sales are less 2 million behind the PS3 sales. The original XBox didn't do well in any of the markets compared to the PS2, but that was M$ first system. It wasn't expected to be on top right out of the gate. Japan was a disaster of course, but the Xbox 360 has tripled it's sales in Japan compared to the original XBox. So no, the 360 has not been a complete failure anywhere. Overall it's still ahead of the PS3 in hardware and software sales. I gather you live is Europe, as you seem to hate the American numbers. lol!!

mightEone
mightEone

The Kinect isn't worthless in shooters and RPGs. It just hasn't been implemented right yet. The best way to make use of the Kinect would obviously have the controller as the main input device and have Kinect there as an optional enhancement. Imagine playing Mass Effect and with the Kinect you are now the character. So when you intiate dialogue, Kinect reads your face and tone of voice as you read the dialogue. Afterwards the NPC reacts to what you said. For example you could say, "I need help!" or "If you don't help me I'll blow your face off!" Well thats what I would do anyway. If I was a developer I'd try to make the most immersive game possible. But I'm not, so for now we have to settle for crap games and shovelware.

hordaak
hordaak

@RunRickyRun really? I have? thanks!!!!

RunRickyRun
RunRickyRun

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

hordaak
hordaak

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

COPMAN221
COPMAN221

Reflects on the big mistake they made?

RunRickyRun
RunRickyRun

The Kinect has a lot of potential for dance and exercise and maybe some type of party games but is completely worthless for Shooters, Action/Adventure, and RPGs which probably acount for over 90% of the games sold on the 360. Only M$ can get away with charging $150 for a web cam with motion recognition software, if the greedy pricks running the company would have charged $50-$60 for it like they should have it would be a runaway success with developers jumping all over it but as it looks now there seems to be very little 3rd party support that microsoft isn't paying for.

CoRiNi
CoRiNi

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

RunRickyRun
RunRickyRun

@dynomitemast comments like yours are the reason so much of the world hates Americans. Thanks for making the rest of us look bad. You forgot to mention the Xbox and the Xbox360 have been a complete failure in Europe and the rest of the world as well selling well exclusively in the U.S., but I'm sure that doesn't matter to you because in your opinion the rest of the world doesn't matter.

CoRiNi
CoRiNi

loved this part "We've never said, "this many Arcades," "this many Elites…"

hrvoje
hrvoje

@dynomitemasta - all I wanted to say is that its pretty pathetic what microsoft is doing just to sell some kinects in japan. sure japan is actually small market compared to europe and usa, but it always gets mentioned and microsoft is trying hard to get into that market. I think microsoft expected that kinect will be closer to japanese public because its something different as opposed to the standard xbox and its games which are strictly westerner and now when it failed there they are getting kind of desperate. I think that kinect does look fun for casual gaming, but its not as miraculous or innovative as most make it out to be, has to many drawbacks (space needed, a need to stand to play a game) and zero potential for serious gaming. I don't own any of the consoles.

ash2197
ash2197

Go Kinect you really surprised me. I figured you sell OK but by december would just sort of bottom out... Great work M$!!!!!!!!!!!

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

yeah i thought kinect would fail horribly, although there is still room, it seems to be doing pretty well, im actually impressed with some of the kinects games, and comparatively speaking, i was expecting more out of the ps move, specifically i was hopin it would be a great aiming tool in FPS games, and well its not... Microsoft managed to turn what i thought would be a party gimmick into somthin more interesting and practical... kudos

dynomitemasta
dynomitemasta

@hrvoje guess what? Japan has gone from dictating the market to being irrelevent as a reflection of what and how the rest of the world will buy.... Japan is it's own entity, becoming more and more isolated in what they buy... And if you ask any of the 3 console makers would they rather have success in Japan or the US, what do you think their answer would be? ... wait, I'll tell you... it's NOT Japan. lol...... stop trying to be clever, you end up just sounding bitter and petty... very petty. and Japan? Why would they care how much room a Japanese arpartment has if they know the Japanese don't care for the most part anyway? Stop it. MS has pulled ahead in the States for 6 months they now have been beating back the Wii, even at Christmas in the US with a product most of you said would fail. Can't you just say, "good for them"?

flexin007
flexin007

Overpriced and near useless hardware at this point imo. Seems like the only upcoming 360 exclusive are on kinect though...lol

Ardiendo_1
Ardiendo_1

I bought a Kinect camera last weekend and so far I can't say I've had a tremendous amount of fun with it. Still the potential is definitely there, in fact I think some of the most interesting things I've seen with it have been home brew projects and I definitely think it is a market Microsoft should tap in to in a similar way to Apple with the App Store. If it sells 5 million units by the end of the year that will be pretty damn impressive too but you have to remember some games sell roughly that many units and for it to be attractive to third party developers looking to spend tens of millions of dollars developing a game specifically for it they are going to need a bigger install base than that.

Ovirew
Ovirew

I think the Kinect has some potential, from what I've played on mine it's pretty fun anyways. I'd like to see some more hardcore games for the system though, like a good shooter or RPG with motion control. With these numbers, perhaps developers will be willing to give something like that a shot. Or at the very least a game with a lot of originality.

hrvoje
hrvoje

I wonder did he included japanese people which microsoft hired to buy a kinect in japan on the first day (and nonexistent lines) when he says that its doing good in japan. they should do a little research on how big the average apartment in a japan is and compare it to how much space you need for playing kinect.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

we'll see what happens, Kinect's concept is awesome, especially with its Friend-to-Friend Video chat, we just need more better games for it to make a really big impact. "What they've said is that typically a handheld purchase is an individual decision, where a console is more of a family decision." No, My parents went apesh*t when I bought a 360, you guys are talking about Kinect when it goes to family

DeanoFantasy
DeanoFantasy

Apart from the Fable games, I have no interest in Microsoft

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

@mjc0961 "You get to go spend a hell of a lot of money to get one." Really now? You got that headset free? Well done, now go ahead and pay that monthly charge for your online multiplayer experience for how much now? Yeah? Had fun with that? Good, I'm going to go pay a one off cost of X amount, use it on my PS3 and play online...for free. Yes, my PS3 had full functionality out of the box, my Xbox on the other hand, didn't. Back on topic, good for M$.

Daian
Daian

@Bangerman15 I feel your pain. I have no idea how the 360 is selling so much ( other than people replacing their Wiis for Kinect) , the PS3 should be demolishing the 360 tnx to all the great exclusives that are coming next year and they always have had more high quality exclusives. :| And yeah, MS isn't showing much love for the PC, only 2 Halos,1 Gears,1 Fable and Alan Wake cancelled when it was almost done ( Remedy,i hope u choke on the money u got for making it exclusive for the 360 ).

gilldominic
gilldominic

Kinect has been out for what? A month? So many people are so quick to take a swipe at it, but while it's an add-on to the 360, it's essentially a new gaming platform. As long as I can remember, new gaming platforms have always had an ultimately unimpressive release range. Kinect has already sold 2.5 million and they're targeting, is it 5 million before the year is out? That will have gotten the attention of a lot of games developers...

gamerpipe
gamerpipe

"Obviously, it's a challenging market. We continue to invest there and feel good " oh yeah? I have been living here for sometime, and Micro$oft doesn't seem to invest well enough. only recently zune videos launched here, and you cannot buy, just rental. no netflix-like, no sports channel, no zune hardware, no radio ..etc.

Bangerman15
Bangerman15

"We're always talking to partners about ways we can bring other types of entertainment experiences, as well as reinvent the platform overall so it continues to feel fresh and new. And you couple those Live services with amazing games." 1. I dont care about any of the services, i pay to play online give me better/more online features than services, the xbox is a gaming specific machine... 2. couple those live services with amazing games?? what amazing games?? xbox has gears 3 coming out next year and what else?? there better be alot of surprises from you microsoft cuz only big exclusive i have heard of for next year is gears 3. all other exclusives planned for next year i have seen are kinect games... :/ sometimes i dont get what the heck MS is doing, they have so much money but where are the exclusives? they can make alot more exclusives wit hthe $$$ they bring in, and where is the GFWL love? havent even heard of a freakn release date for fable 3 pc yet... breakn my balls MS

steelmouth
steelmouth

@MohammedMusfa more sequels sony has msg4,gt5, ff13 so why not halo/gears 5

steelmouth
steelmouth

lik i said before kinect is ms last hope in japan Mr Dennis I agree "We wouldn't trade places with anyone at this point" signed Steelmouth (xbox fan)

TLR_
TLR_

I like that Kinect is doing well, but I'm worried about it's future. Either they ditch the "you are the controller" theme and integrate Kinect with the 360 controller, or doom it to the same fate that the PS2 EyeToy had. As of right now, I can't help but be on PSMove's side. They've already got the balance of casual games AND hardcore experiences, while Kinect is struggling to hold down casual with Dance Central and Kinectimals. Where's the truly substantial game like MAG? Where's the definitive experience like RE5? I wanna like Kinect because the technology is awesome, but I'm seeing too much tech demo, and not enough actual gaming.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

@mjc0961 Actually Newegg just had Bluetooth headsets for $10 and the basic headset that comes with a 360 is $10-$15 to replace. Also, just because everyone gets one doesn't mean they use it. Honestly between the two theres a pretty close number of people with and without headsets between the two. I play usually on PC, but when I do get over to the consoles I've never seen full rooms with headsets on any system. The official PS3 headset is actually very nice for the price compared to other bluetooths in that range. I actually just looked and I saw a headset on Newegg for $12 and even though it isn't great quality it matches the stock 360 headsets, and no wires. I hate having the wires sitting in my lap or catching things if I move.