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Kinect will be Xbox One's game-changer, says Harrison

Microsoft exec says having camera controller standard will boost dev support, says content will be "more broadly curated"

Much has been made of the Xbox One's TV initiative, possible support for always-on DRM, and plan to discourage used game sales. But in an interview with VentureBeat, Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business vice president Phil Harrison put a special emphasis on the system's second-generation Kinect camera.

"The fundamental, most impactful thing is that there's a Kinect in every box now," Harrison said. "There's the ubiquity of the platform having Kinect, whereas before it was always a subset. That made it difficult for developers to invest against 20 percent of the installed base or whatever it was. Having it as 100 percent - that's a game-changer."

In addition to expanded developer support on the gaming side, Harrison thinks Kinect will significantly change the user experience for all kinds of content.

"One of the things that I don't think we truly understand the significance of yet is automatic identity through Kinect," Harrison said. "If your wife or your daughter or your son or yourself starts interacting with the machine, it instantly switches to their choice of content, their profile, their personalization, their recommendation. That alone, that simplicity, is going to dramatically increase the number of people who want to interact with Xbox One."

Had Microsoft focused just on creating a gaming system rather than an all-in-one entertainment box, Harrison said the market would have grown. (Chris Lewis, Microsoft Europe's VP of Interactive Entertainment told GamesIndustry International the new consoles could grow the market as much as 30 percent.) But with the addition of features like content customization and Kinect user identification, the executive said an entirely new market of consumers could be reached.

"By making it simple and instant and complete, it means we can get men, women, old, young to enjoy playing and interacting with the device," Harrison said. "It's not just about core gamers; although, they are incredibly important to our future. It's also about finding entry points for all members of the household."

Harrison also addressed another lingering concern about Xbox One, that of Microsoft's approach to content curation. While the company has confirmed developers won't be able to self-publish their titles on Xbox One, Harrison suggested Microsoft would be loosening its control over its online storefront at least a little.

"We like an element of curation in the content landscape and the content experience, but that is definitely getting more broadly curated than it has been in the past," Harrison said. "I'm not sure I would describe it as closed versus open because that implies a more binary shift. I don't think you can be partly closed or partly open. It's more about curating content."

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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