Minecraft - Can it turn Kinect around?
If there's one area of gaming which has been flying under the radar as of late, it's Microsoft Kinect. The main purpose of Microsoft's recent presentation at E3 was to rectify this, with the announcement of handfuls of new Kinect titles. The intent of the gaming giant is clear -- to expand the life-span of the Xbox 360 and focus on attracting a wider audience.
If this is to go according to plan, however, some serious work is going to have to be done. Over half a year on from the release of Kinect, and we still only have fifteen titles available for purchase on the market. When you factor in the critical reception of these games - in particular their inaccurate use of the system and/or delay in reading gestures - the future looks bleak.
Among the handfuls of shovelware-type titles on display at e3, however, stood a hero. There was but one game announced for the Kinect platform that, while puzzling, strikes as a very impressive move. That game is Minecraft for Kinect. While very little was revealed about the move from PC to 360, one thing was immediately clear: this game can be the saviour of this underwhelming motion control system.
One might wonder how this is true, but upon looking at the signs, it all makes sense. Minecraft is one of few titles on the market which can do no wrong. After two years and nearly two and a half million sales, the sandbox building game continues to impress critics and players alike, even with its unique mode of distribution.
If there's one thing Kinect needs, it's a developer with a proven track record. Sure, Minecraft is the only title so far released by Mojang, but the team has shown it has the experience to make big decisions and listen to what the fanbase wants. This maturity will carry over to the Xbox platform, and result in another smooth, well-rounded experience. Additionally, it will lead to the advancement of Kinect and how the device is seen in developers' eyes.
This is because Minecraft is not like the majority of games designed with the Kinect system as an afterthought. Other games often rely on instinctive movements and quick gestures one after another. On the other hand, Minecraft is much more relaxed in nature. There can be more time between gestures. The effect of this is twofold: the gestures don't have to be so exaggerated and the accuracy of the camera will be much higher.
Should Kinect control be implemented successfully, we'll start to see the emergence of a new type of game, one that belongs on this platform. One which can appeal to both casual and core markets and be spot-on the way the Kinect concept needs to be. If not, then it really is a bleak future for the the 360 - if a team as strong and smart as Mojang can't make effective use of the Kinect platform, it's all too likely that the Xbox 360 will follow in the Wii's footsteps.
By Harry Hughes
Do you think Minecraft can make effective use of Kinect?