Whither Natal? Microsoft's unique E3 challenge

ARS: Microsoft has been more than coy about its upcoming motion control hardware, known at the moment as Project Natal. Some members of the press, more fortunate than we are, have seen it, although their coverage could only include images of the writers, not the hardware or the game itself. In some demos last year Peter Molyneux helped the reporters play with the creepy virtual boy, Milo, who could name the color of the writer's shirt, among other parlor tricks.

In other words, there just isn't much information or hands-on impressions to be had with Project Natal, and the main challenge Microsoft faces at this year's E3 is not only to make the hardware real for the press and the readers at home, but to convince readers that this is something they need to buy this holiday season. That may be a bigger challenge than everyone assumes.

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T9X692967d ago Show
Anarki2967d ago

The key to Natal/Moves success is the price, imho. If Natal sells at 150$, no one will buy it, apart from the rich folk...

Imho, 50-60$ is the right price for natal... if they want it to sell well.

IronFistChinMi2967d ago

I'm not rich, but I'll buy Natal/Move if the games impress me. Natal will be able to track 4-players out of the box, so the £100 price is fine by me.

ATLGAMER2967d ago

u guys think MS..has anything going with natal u got another thing coming.

Anon19742967d ago (Edited 2967d ago )

The $150 price point is a killer. For a family that might consider buying a Wii, Wii-motes, Nunchuks, charging stations and batteries and Wii-motion plus, Natal actually doesn't seem like a bad value for $150 but it's the optics that will kill it.

Even though it might be a comparatively decent value at $150, consumers won't see it that way. They'll see and Xbox and Natal for $150 with no recognizable characters on one hand. On the other they'll see the Wii that everyone has been talking about. Cheaper, slimmer, more friendly with Mario himself waving at you saying "Spenda your money on me! Here we gooooooo!"

Parents looking for a gaming console for their family aren't going to give an Xbox with a $150 camera attachment a second look.

And I know I've said this before but I think it's still a valid point, it's dad's that do the shopping for tech. If the Arcade/Natal bundle is really $299, what else do we know that's $299? What self respecting dad is going to pass up the opportunity to buy a PS3 with a Blu-Ray player for $299 versus Arcade/Natal? At the same price I think Blu-ray is a much stronger selling feature than a camera add on.

What I don't understand based on what I've seen is why the media has been all over this like it's some gaming revolution. There have been web cam games for over a decade now and they've never really caught on. While Natal is obviously more advanced than a simple web cam, it's still really just working off the same basic principal we've seen in web cam games that amused us for a total of 72 seconds over the years. There's nothing innovative about this product from what I've seen, but the press has been clapping like trained seals. I just don't get it.

DigitalRaptor2966d ago (Edited 2966d ago )

In answer to the press going along with Natal: there's something really strange about how the only people who have had hands-on with Natal lately are a bunch of 'no-name' foreign websites, who are all applauding it for things that really don't seem that impressive. I think it's because these small sites want to make a name for themselves by promoting Natal. It makes you wonder why IGN, Gamespot and the like, haven't had these hands-on demos. Has Microsoft got something to hide from the more reputable gaming sites?

Seriously, I've seen footage of these people playing Richochet for the 100th time and how can someone be that blown away by it?

Milamber2966d ago

There were mp3 players before the iPod.

Arnon2967d ago

The key to Natal/Move's success is it's marketing. $150 for a 4-player peripheral with excellent marketing will sell no matter what.

PS360_372966d ago (Edited 2966d ago )

The key word is: "excellent marketing"

MS needs to market the fact that it is $150 for 4 players, if that is the price. If you think about it, if a bundle is $300, the whole set is cheaper than a Wii and Move with enough remotes for 4 players.

I think people on this site see $150 as a ripoff for Natal because they forget that 4 players can use it. Even if they do realize that, they are hardcore gamers playing by themselves. $150 for one player is a lot. Also remember that MS is NOT marketing towards hardcore gamers like the ones on N4G.

JokesOnYou2967d ago (Edited 2966d ago )

JokesOnYou 3d ago lol, people love new tech...
First lets remember $150 is the rumored price, as I said before $100 would be the sweet spot, I think Natal will have huge sales at that price but $150 isn't bad considering the new tech and what Natal offers compared to the wii and if indeed the $150 is true I still see very good sales for Natal, the games will of course have alot to do with it.

wii fit balance board has been selling like crazy to casuals for $100, it has remained at the top of best seller charts since it launched, the only thing its used for is gimmicky exercise games, its not nearly as versatile as Natal which will offer a wide range of casual games, plus, if micro's smart they will launch Natal with 360's own version of gimmicky exercise games and of course Natal will be used in immersive hardcore games starting with Fable 3.= So basicly tons of folks think the *limited use of wii-fit balance board is worth $100 but yet a whole new piece of tech with means of versatile interaction with upcoming motion enabled games(Natal) is not worth $50 more than wii-fit.

lmfao, the haters will hate no matter how what the cost but I believe $150 + some interesting content is going to push some very respectable sales for Natal/360.

Now of course some will downplay Natal as just a webcam, or pretend since the Eyetoy failed Natal is no different. NO, Micro is the first to actually push this type of motion tech for console gaming, the eyetoy has been around for awhile but #1 It wasn't as advanced as Natal and #2 sony never pushed for development of decent games beyond a few mini-games much like micro never did anything with its Live vision camera beyond stuff like "Totem Ball" and the Uno card game, face in R6: Vegas etc....therefore theres no merit to statements about Natal being another Eyetoy, no matter how much folks scream "this tech" has been around for years, sure the "idea" and of course lesser variations of the tech have been around for awhile but NOBODY UNTIL MICRO HAS ACTUALLY MADE A SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT TO BRING FULL BODY MOTION CONTROL GAMING TO CONSOLES. I mean many basicly many of the sonyfans logic seems to be just because an idea or rudimentary product that hit the market already and hasn't taken off, then therefore micro is waisting their time making a similiar product even if its much better tech that will be supported with a significant level of content.

btw, vvvvvv quidd you're exactly right, Natal will be utilized in games where it makes sense, the Burnout demo stuff isn't being shown anymore because micro realized through feedback that not many people want to drive a car with a "pretend I have a steering wheel" Natal enabled game. Also the best uses for Natal will likely be when its combined with a standard 360 controller, which microsoft has also said repeatedly they will do.


AAACE52966d ago

I think Natal will do really well! Hear me out first...

Nintendo has had alot of success with the Wii and the Ps3 looks to provide a great experience as well. But after thinking about Natal, I realized MS can go in many different directions with it!

Nintendo is getting away with selling all kinds of add-ons. The expensive Wii fit, the Motion plus, etc. People are using it for games and exercise.

MS has the Natal tech which could open this all up. If you think about it, everyone wants to lose weight. The primary thing to do for weight loss is to get active by moving the body around, get the heart rate going and get a good sweat going. We have seen many infomercials where they are trying to sell you some crappy gimmick like a ab buster or workout video. The problem with those is they get boring and you lose interest in them.

Natal is going to provide the best of both worlds. Nintendo and Sony will allow you to get an upper body workout, but Natal will give you a total body workout. It became clear to me when I started thinking about how the body works and thinking about some of the games.

It will allow you to get a workout while having fun and the best part is you won't think about it that much because you will be trying to play the game!

I'm not bashing either, but I am saying that if MS does this right, Natal could truely take off!

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quiddd2967d ago (Edited 2967d ago )

at your local game store, it showcases Natal/Wave and what it can do. Communicating with friends, playing games, etc. All without a controller.

In the case of a driving game, driving without a steering wheel, who wants that? If the whole purpose of next gen games is to make you feel more "immersed," I would think you would want a controller or steering wheel.

quiddd2967d ago

a parking lot on my way to the mall and all the cars had steering wheels.

jcgamer2967d ago

Solid games at launch are critical to Natal's image and short term thing motion controls have taught the gaming world/mainstream is that you don't need it until the games are there...there's no rush to buy...the Wii launch was magic in a bottle, but lessons were the Wii has great AAA games launching all around Natal, which is definitely going to put pressure on its launch....

that being said, i respect all of The Big 3 for various reasons and i can't wait to see what's coming in the not so distant future...

Alcon Caper2967d ago

...Natal has always been praised a peripheral that will be completely integrated into Live. Watching movies, purchasing items, voice command, menu control--all these things that would be done w/out a controller w/ an interface that is designed completely around it could be a scape goat for MS at E3.

If they can successfully blow our minds with how Live and the Dash can be used w/ Natal, then games may not even be as much a factor...

Anon19742967d ago

Just out of curiosity, how much would you spend on that? It might be a bit of a novelty to be able to navigate the dashboard with a flick of my wrist instead of a press of a button, but that's not worth $150 to me...not even close. In fact, it seems kinda ridiculous when you look at it from the point of view. Who would pay that kind of money to replace a button press with a hand flick?

Of course Natal is more than just that, but still. $150 to play games using a camera? I don't like jumping around in front of my TV in the first place. I'm not going to pay extra plus pay for special games to let me do this while I could be relaxing on my couch after a long day and making things blow up with a button press.

Alcon Caper2967d ago

The article says there haven't been very many hands on impressions of Natal, but then quotes Gizmodo and Engadget and their "promising" reactions. There have been several several several "hands on impressions." We've seen at least one a week since the beginning of the year. And a good majority of them are very favorable of the technology (even though it's just Burn Out and Ricochet).

Even though MS is slow-playing Natal, these media events that demonstrate Natal are being completely ignored by the rest of the media. (as well as gamers)

If a majority of devs and media sites have praised Natal, I have no doubt that it will be favorable by a majority of the gaming public.

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