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.
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.
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.
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?
- 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.
- 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.