Microsoft has christened its new motion-sensing game system 'Kinect', and hopes to draw a new generation of casual players into the Xbox game console fold.
The company on Sunday unveiled some games including a track and field tournament, a driving simulation in which passengers rock their bodies to toss the car into cartwheels, and a Star Wars game with enhanced control of a Jedi knight.
Microsoft is expected to flesh out details of Kinect at the annual games convention E3. Along with Nintendo's 3D-without-glasses platform, the Kinect is expected to generate the most buzz.
Sony will show off its competing ‘Move’ motion-sensor.
The potentially revolutionary device uses gesture recognition software to let people play videogames using natural body movements instead of hand-held controllers.
It lets people play driving games, for example, by simply moving their hands as if turning a car steering wheel.
Microsoft did not reveal pricing details, but analysts estimate that the three-camera device, which will be in stores by this holiday season, will range from $50 to $200.
The set-up allows for completely hands-free games and controlling the console with voice commands, and is designed to appeal to casual players and newcomers than hardcore gamers.
“There's only so much headway you can make until you bring moms into the equation,” said Mike Delman, vice president of global marketing for Microsoft’s interactive entertainment division. “There’s lots of kids and moms who want to have an interactive experience together.”
The rush of new technology comes at a time when the video game industry needs a rush of new blood. Total U.S. industry sales — hardware, software and accessories — are down more than 10 per cent to $4.7 billion this year through April, retail research firm NPD Group says.
Delman estimates there are 40 million Xbox gamers around the world, of whom 30 million are"hardcore". Microsoft hoped to draw in tens of millions more with Kinect, which relies almost exclusively on body motions and gestures.
In a performance conceptualised by Cirque du Soleil, Microsoft staged enactments of how games would be played. Among games demonstrated were a full-interactive instructional dance video, a virtual pet simulation featuring four furry felines including tiger and lion cubs that players can stroke and train, and a yoga-taichi exercise game.