Why Kinect 2.0 flopped? (TLDR posted at the end)

#1 Edited by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

This is a companion piece to Charizard's lengthy essay on Microsoft's policy on exclusives. It is an article addressing the other half of the Xbox One.

I did not write this nor did I create any of those ideas from that piece. My only contribution is through google browsing and finding this excellent piece on Reddit.

All credit goes to u/Bibblejw. The topic in context is "Great ideas that failed due to poor execution".

I've got a couple of these, pretty much most of Microsoft's latest ventures, but, for the moment, I'll go with the Kinect. Specifically, the Kinect 2.

The hardware is incredible, and the things it can do are astounding (multi-person skeleton tracking, remote heart-rate, expression recognition), but, let's run through the events.

  1. Nintendo releases the Wii U. There really should be any reason for this to be a factor here. Nintendo have been playing a different game to Sony and MS for a generation or so, but Sony and MS don't seem to have worked that out. So, when Nintendo thought "We've got this idea for updated hardware, and it's been a while since the last release, so here's a new console", both of the other two perked up, thinking it's the start of the "next generation" battle. It wasn't Nintendo's market overlaps the others, but there's not really much in the way of competition.

  2. E3. This was a balls up. Partially because the stuff wasn't ready, but the news releases (privacy invasions, selling of information, covert installations) really couldn't be worse timed for the Kinect. The possibilities for the system (basically the groundwork for fully, conversationally interactive systems) was undone, and they had to backpedal, and scale back everything to a shadow of it's former self, but it was still there. It was a part of every system. The software can come later, as long as the hardware is available.

  3. But not too much later. The console is released, and (purely speculation, but it seems to line up with what I know from various sources) is only just ready on time. Stuff was still changing FAR later than it should have been, and devs didn't get any kind of SDK with anything close to enough time to make console-selling exclusives. And that's really the crux of the matter. If you're trying to get someone to buy something, or use something, you've got to give them a reason to do so. You need a spectacular, novel implementation, right off the bat, that people can look at and go "yeah, this thing has potential", but that never materialised. The most you got were the add-on features in the OS, which were neat, but nothing to shout about. So, people started yelling about it, calling for a kinect-free console, because it's a costly feature, and they weren't actually given a good reason to have it. Given the call, MS obliged, and that, more or less, killed the device. You can't put large amounts of money into developing for an accessory that people may or may not have. Any kinect titles are going to be niche items from here on in.

Now, this is all speculation and opinion, but it's how I see it. If you're wondering what the could have done as their "showpiece", consider the following:

  • Fitness apps. The ones for the Kinect 1 a reasonable, but adding full skeletal tracking, as well as heart-rate and expression (and skeletal stress) recognition could actually make a personal trainer that genuinely provides you with the information you need to get fit. We're talking geeks here, more info on these things is better. It's a major selling point for the new OS versions on BOTH major mobile platforms, this isn't a small market, but the X1 fitness apps seem to be nothing more that reskinned 360 ones with a few different (and costly) routines, combined with the heavy hints that there'll be a Xbox Health subscription at some point in the future (in addition to the rest of the costs).

  • Conversational interactions. Think Siri on steroids, running the notifications and query systems. Not easy to code, but spectacular if it works.

  • Biometric game feedback. This is one that really intrigues me. Imagine playing Amnesia on a console that could tell with you were getting stressed. Or a game activating a focus mechanic when you genuinely focussed on the action.

There are others, and ones that I wouldn't be able to think of, but those are the ones that spring to mind. It just annoys me that the Kinect is an incredible piece of kit, but, in this case, it really was the marketers and managers that killed it stone dead.

But it's not the only time they've done it. I have similar rants about Windows 8 touchscreens (I'm for them, but, again, MS didn't have either the sense or balls to follow through), and Windows Mobile (which is a colossally squandered opportunity).

Why should I post an entire new topic instead of adding it to Charizard's?

  1. This is addressing the issues of Kinect and not with Microsoft's policy of buying exclusives like a sugar daddy buying expensive players through the Transfer market.
  2. I wanted sober thought on the Kinect and the aftermath of the NSA scandal in 2013.

TLDR version: A combination of bad marketing and poor timing is the reason why Kinect 2.0 flopped.

#2 Edited by cainetao11 (19512 posts) -

Why? Because they capitalized on the novelty of it already. There were three games I really enjoyed playing last gen with it. Fable Journey, Gunstringer, and Child of Eden. Mostly because of who I played with. I have 2.0 and while it is a shit ton more responsive, and watching my father play KSR with his grandson is infinitely hilarious, it has no compelling application besides me getting signed in and directing my entertainment without using my hands/skyping with friends outside of NYC. I am glad I have these options, but the magic has worn off, and Spencer realized it.

#3 Posted by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@cainetao11: Kinect 2.0 complimenting the controller and replacing the TV remote is a cool feature. $500 bucks to smarten your TV with voice recognized input (something neither Roku, Apple TV or Chromecast can do) without spending thousands to buy one is quite reasonable.

Even when Cable is becoming obsolete, streaming services can still benefit from it. Switching from Forza to watching the Seahawks with voice alone is far less of a hassle than just using a controller.

The problem, as that thread of Reddit pointed out, is the execution.

#4 Posted by Dire_Weasel (16204 posts) -

Zero button mouse with a lot of latency on it.

John Carmack
#5 Edited by chikenfriedrice (11017 posts) -

It didn't flop as a useful piece of equipment in my house. Games, I never really wanted it to control games but everything else it does well.

#6 Posted by Heil68 (47153 posts) -

Kinect(lol) the joke of the industry and endless fail gifs.

#7 Posted by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@Heil68: How is it a joke? As funny as memes are, they mostly spread and reinforce misinformation that does not contribute to reasonable discussion.

#8 Posted by JangoWuzHere (17428 posts) -

It flopped cause it had no games to play and failed to show itself as the device to rule the living room.

#9 Posted by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@JangoWuzHere: The same can be said about the PS4, and it already broke the 10 million barrier despite its lackluster exclusives.

#10 Posted by getyeryayasout (8481 posts) -

MS really did need to have that piece of software ready at X1's launch that could change perceptions about Kinect, and turn it into something that people really wanted. They've had since 2010, when Kinect launched on 360 and still haven't figured out what that software is, and they can't leave it up to a third party to develop that piece of software. MS has to prove it.

#11 Posted by Pray_to_me (3101 posts) -

@hiphops_savior said:

@JangoWuzHere: The same can be said about the PS4, and it already broke the 10 million barrier despite its lackluster exclusives.

Ok but the PS4 uses a conventional controller that doesn't *need* exclusives to utilize. Kinect needed games built around kinect to showcase its potential and Microsoft didn't deliver, proving that they were never too serious about it to begin with.

#12 Posted by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@getyeryayasout: Read this article by @charizard1605 on the consequences of Microsoft's strategy. The Kinect, for all its touted out to be, is never designed to completely replace the controller. It is designed to compliment it, by allowing you to go from Netflix to Forza to watching the Seahawks or the Raptors through voice input.

#13 Posted by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@Pray_to_me: Kinect isn't designed to provide a new experience. It is designed to compliment the experience. As bibblejw argued, Microsoft pulling is back is doing more harm than good.

Between the NSA scandal and Microsoft's own botched execution, the Kinect is really an amazing piece of technology doomed to failure due to bad timing and bad publicity.

#14 Posted by speedfog (3359 posts) -

It did not flop. Need more proof TC if you want it to be true.

#15 Posted by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@speedfog: Can you back that statement up? Until you do, you still hold the burden of proof.

#16 Posted by Pray_to_me (3101 posts) -

@hiphops_savior said:

@Pray_to_me: Kinect isn't designed to provide a new experience. It is designed to compliment the experience. As bibblejw argued, Microsoft pulling is back is doing more harm than good.

Between the NSA scandal and Microsoft's own botched execution, the Kinect is really an amazing piece of technology doomed to failure due to bad timing and bad publicity.

Games designed with a controller in mind with some gimicky kinect function shoehorned in never was a sound stratagy, it needed games built from the ground up specifically for Kinect. It wouldn't have been "bad timing" if it had had a stable of games demonstrating its potential. There's a reason why every Xbone came with a kinect, it was supposed to be an "intrigal" part of the Xbone experience not "complimentary" as you falsely assert.

Microsoft was right to pack every Xbone with Kinect. They were wrong to not have any software to showcase exactly what would make the Kinect compelling.

#17 Posted by edwardecl (2239 posts) -

Problem is there are no good games that use Kinect 2.0 to justify it, and using it as a microphone is not exactly cost effective.

#18 Edited by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@Pray_to_me: Does the Xbox One experience begins and ends with games, as you assert?

The first quote in your article says this

The all-new Kinect is now an essential and integrated part of the platform. By having it as a consistent part of every Xbox One, game and entertainment creators can build experiences that assume the availability of voice, gesture and natural sensing, leading to unrivaled ease of use, premium experiences and interactivity for you.

The key here is that Xbox One is more than just a gaming device.

Where did the problem start? According to them,

...the company's clumsy explanation of its digital rights policy.

In light of the NSA scandal that saw Edward Snowden flee to Russia for dear life, there is a growing backlash against the use of devices that has the potential to spy on them.

Kinect is part of the Xbox One. It is part of the experience that we're building.

In one review (I am still looking for it), the reviewer pointed out that the Kinect worked as part of the everyday experience of using a console.

To answer your question, I concede that Kinect is integral to the Xbox One. However, it does not begin or end with gaming for Kinect to be viable when Xbox One is designed as an entertainment device for your living room (which also plays games). Contrast that to the PS4 and the Wii U, whose primary purpose is a gaming console that can stream video and browse on the web.

What's harming Microsoft more is its confusing and contradictory messages about the application of Kinect and its purpose for the console.

#19 Posted by getyeryayasout (8481 posts) -

@hiphops_savior said:

@getyeryayasout: Read this article by @charizard1605 on the consequences of Microsoft's strategy. The Kinect, for all its touted out to be, is never designed to completely replace the controller. It is designed to compliment it, by allowing you to go from Netflix to Forza to watching the Seahawks or the Raptors through voice input.

I can dig it. It's something that's difficult to show to consumers and convey how it makes things better. From what I've read here and from X1 owning friends it sounds pretty cool, but it's difficult to market something like that, and you end up relying on word-of-mouth. And that's been less than positive for the most part. Personally I don't dislike Kinect, I'm more ambivalent about it. When it was still Natal I thought it was going to be really cool, been all downhill since.

#20 Posted by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@getyeryayasout: Story of Microsoft's entire life. Think of and fund cool ideas, only to find ways of botching them.

#21 Posted by getyeryayasout (8481 posts) -

@hiphops_savior said:

@getyeryayasout: Story of Microsoft's entire life. Think of and fund cool ideas, only to find ways of botching them.

Right? I wonder if IllumiRoom will even make it to market to get the opportunity to be botched? :P It seems completely impractical, but looked really cool.

#22 Posted by Krelian-co (13057 posts) -

@Heil68 said:

Kinect(lol) the joke of the industry and endless fail gifs.

This, considering is a gimmick that loses its wow factor 5 mins after starting a game.

#23 Posted by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@edwardecl: Assuming microphones can translate voice input into executable data.

#24 Posted by asylumni (2259 posts) -

@hiphops_savior: I'm having a hard time remembering the last cell phone that I couldn't use voice commands with. It was definitely well before android and iOS.

#25 Edited by Chutebox (38275 posts) -

The thing is garbage. Glad it failed. And it went away like all other fads. And that's all it was, a fad. The thing is worthless for games too.

#26 Posted by handssss (1898 posts) -

Because it's useless for real gaming and they couldn't prove otherwise. Not with the original Kinect. Not during the months of buildup or the months afterwards where Kinect 2 was still "essential". Because when every dev could depend on every Xbox owner having it, it still meant the system cost $100 more which didn't mean much since there were no games that were GOOD that really used it in a meaningful way or needed it. Now that it is gone in order to make the price and system more appealing, they automatically have to alienate a percentage of Xbox owners who won't have Kinect.

Literally the only 2 things work decently with Kinect. Dance games and voice controls. Voice controls COULD be done with any headset or mic if Microsoft let Xbox owners use them, but that's MS for you.

#27 Posted by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@handssss: If headset and microphones can convert voice command into tasks, why did it take so long? It takes more than a microphone that converts voice into wave files for computers to recognize speech as instructions to execute task.

Siri is a software designed for such purposes. Kinect not only recognizes human speech, but also facial features and movement. One little factoid, you can be whistled for a technical in NBA 2k games for obscenity.

Whether Kinect has a use or not, much of its features is software based. It is disingenuous and downright trolling to assert a microphone is all that is required for the Xbox One to recognize speech as tasks.

#28 Posted by nutcrackr (12846 posts) -

No games that used it well enough. Tech is still 10-20 years off from being what you think it would be.

#29 Posted by silversix_ (16138 posts) -

it failed because it was never meant to be a gaming tool.

#30 Posted by El_Garbanzo (294 posts) -

I dont care why it flopped, but im glad it did. It could have been a cash cow for Xpos, cheaply made, scrapped together casual garbage games sold at $60

#31 Posted by Caseytappy (2178 posts) -

It fails because it never works as advertised, all you have is half assed unresponsive controls plagued by lag .

#32 Posted by handssss (1898 posts) -

@hiphops_savior said:

@handssss: If headset and microphones can convert voice command into tasks, why did it take so long? It takes more than a microphone that converts voice into wave files for computers to recognize speech as instructions to execute task.

Siri is a software designed for such purposes. Kinect not only recognizes human speech, but also facial features and movement. One little factoid, you can be whistled for a technical in NBA 2k games for obscenity.

Whether Kinect has a use or not, much of its features is software based. It is disingenuous and downright trolling to assert a microphone is all that is required for the Xbox One to recognize speech as tasks.

ps4 let's you use any mic. phones all use voice controls. Basically any computer can use voice controls and let you use any mic. The magic isn't in the Kinect, that's just a fancy camera with a mic in it. It's all on a software level. That software is in the Xbox, so there's no excuse as to why MS limited the voice controls to only Kinect.

#33 Posted by tdkmillsy (1705 posts) -

I use the Kinect on my Xbox One every day, its an awesome addition to the console. TC is pretty much correct it hasn't done well due to Microsoft needing to put right the mess they made at E3, they had to play safe and that was to simply return to the basics. Games that use a controller and cover the same old criteria. I still don't agree with them removing it from the console but they had to cut costs quick and this was the only way.

The potential is still there, for example playing Silent Hill with Kinect monitoring your reactions and adapting the game would be simply awesome. Full body scans putting you in the Call of Duty where your actually shooting your mates and not made up chars, there are loads of ways. But right now Microsoft are feeling the hurt from taking too much of a risk, but hopefully some time in the future Kinect will be used to differentiate games on the Xbox One.

Gamers shouldn't be so narrow minded Kinect has potential just like VR but its upto developers to take a risk. But in the current climate not many will and that's not a good thing.

#34 Posted by MlauTheDaft (4518 posts) -

It failed because because it did'nt do anything new and because it did'nt do anything people want to spend time on.

The tech already existed and was used where appliccable. For games, it represented a solution without a problem; one with severe drawbacks.

#35 Posted by rrjim1 (936 posts) -

@handssss:

Try it!

#36 Posted by hiphops_savior (8062 posts) -

@MlauTheDaft: "Nothing is new under the sun".

Just because you don't think it's worth spending time on doesn't mean others don't. And no, i don't accept marketing rhetoric as reinforcement of your sentiment. Did the tech existed? Of course. Did the tech combine together to attempt to enhance the experience of console gaming as Phil Spencer envisioned,

"an essential piece for your living room"?

Phil Spencer, President of Microsoft Gaming, Xbox Division

Probably yes. But, as typical Microsoft, they always find a way of botching the software with counter-intuitive features that requires the level of troll logic found on forums than in testing departments.

#37 Posted by Gue1 (11370 posts) -

@cainetao11 said:

Why? Because they capitalized on the novelty of it already. There were three games I really enjoyed playing last gen with it. Fable Journey, Gunstringer, and Child of Eden. Mostly because of who I played with. I have 2.0 and while it is a shit ton more responsive, and watching my father play KSR with his grandson is infinitely hilarious, it has no compelling application besides me getting signed in and directing my entertainment without using my hands/skyping with friends outside of NYC. I am glad I have these options, but the magic has worn off, and Spencer realized it.

this ^