MS: "Natal isn't just about gaming"

New hardware is about the whole living room experience, says Xbox 360 GM

Microsoft's upcoming Project Natal motion-sensing hardware has been created as much to enhance the living room experience as it has for playing games with, according to Xbox 360 general manager Marc Whitten.

Speaking to Fast Company, Whitten said that Natal had also been designed to replace the multitude of buttons and remote controls in people's living rooms, and that it might eventually be able to react to a user's response during a television event such as a football match.

"If you counted the number of buttons in your living room, it would send a chill down your spine," he said. "A lot of people can play games amazingly well, but others feel locked out if games involve a bunch of triggers and buttons."

"But Natal isn't just about gaming," he added. "It's about all living room experiences. Imagine a sporting event. Natal could know which team you're for because it sees your jersey, or knows you thought a bad call was made when you yell 'boo.'

"It learns about you and gets smarter to create a more tailored entertainment experience."

Microsoft's Natal is due out before the end of the year. Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter recently speculated the new hardware would likely be bundled with a new Xbox 360 slim model for $299.

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Latest comments (8)

George Manolas Computer Technician 12 years ago
I for one am excited to see what natal can do when all the bugs are worked out.
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Jack Loftus Contributing Editor, Gizmodo12 years ago
Christ it's the "this is more than a console it's a media center" crock of BS all over again.

Edit: ""It learns about you and gets smarter to create a more tailored entertainment experience."

Shades of the PlayStation 2's exaggerated "Emotion Engine" methinks...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jack Loftus on 22nd April 2010 9:44pm

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Johan Ekblom12 years ago
Now Microsoft says that Natal is not just for games, just because they are unable to produce any good games. And for that product out and not behaving as you want when using it.
I still believe that Natal is a joke.
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Show all comments (8)
James Knight QA Manager/Game Design 12 years ago
I think natal looks like a brilliant piece of tech and looks like it will live up technically. Though honestly I see much more non gaming applications and non traditional gaming than normal gaming. I'm wondering how they are going to do the traditional. The other concern is well, *having* a camera in your room learning about you. Think about that.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 12 years ago
Interesting that Microsoft proudly sported their core games and now they've taken the Wii direction and proudly trumpet, '"But Natal isn't just about gaming, It's about all living room experiences." Don't get me wrong I'm sure it will be a nice piece of technology but surely something like the Wii is a little more user friendly?
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Dan Lowe 3D Animator, Ubisoft Montreal12 years ago
The big issue with Natal, as far as I can see, is that without an analogue stick they're pretty much removing the ability to do traditional character movement in games. I'm sure there are creative ways to abstract human locomotion using Natal, but if the big innovation of their system (outside of simplifying input so your parents can play), is to do a one-to-one copy of your motions in the game, then you really don't want to be abstracting character motion all that much.

Because of all this I think Natal is going to end up with a lot of fixed frame games, or games where you're on rails, and I know that's going to alienate a lot of people. Certainly I don't see a lot of the current AAA studios switching to Natal, when their bread and butter is in creating fire-fights, platforming, exploration, team sports, and so on, which are all heavily reliant on the players ability to navigate the game space.
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Kenneth Bruton Producer 12 years ago
The possibility of multiple applications are endless. I would like to see HOW they are going beyond gaming with it...
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George Birbilis Computer Engineer 12 years ago
Anyone commenting should first do some research (e.g. see concept videos from MS). Especially the demo where you write down something and hand out a paper to the on-screen character who grabs it and reads it (via OCR) is very nice. Also the face recognition / figure extraction from the background is very nice - they had a demo where you're looking down to a lake and see yourself in the rippling water (you make the ripples with your hands)
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