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Kinecting People

Microsoft's Chris Lewis on price points, target audience and the evolving software mix for Kinect

One of the bigger news stories heading towards the end of the year will be the performance of the new motion control platforms, and with the release of the Kinect for 360 pricing structure today, some of the final pieces of the jigsaw are slotting into place.

As the official announcement hit, we spoke to Microsoft's VP for the Interactive Entertainment Business in Europe - Chris Lewis - to tackle the big question of price, which audience segments would find that appealing, and how software for the motion control system would evolve over time.

GamesIndustry.biz The pricing for Kinect has been unveiled - there will be conflicting opinions on that, so give us some insight into why it costs what it does.
Chris Lewis

Well, as you know, we research all of these things very consistently across wide groups of target consumers, and we're very confident - particularly given that Kinect for 360 does come with the Kinect Adventures game. I've played it a few times, and it is deep and expansive, with 20 different levels. It's a very broad gaming experience that comes packed in with Kinect for 360.

So from our point of view, that plus the technology and what that means to the consumer by way of experience - and the innovation it represents - we're confident that it's great value. Certainly all of the testing and research that we've done confirms that point, and we're confident that consumers are happy to pay for great experiences.

Not only that game I've just referenced, but others coming out of E3 - Harmonix' Dance Central for example picked up Best Motion Simulation Game and Best Original Game [awards] at the show. Those kind of compelling experiences give us confidence that people will be excited about Kinect for 360 and what it represents.

GamesIndustry.biz Who do you envisage as the main target demographic for Kinect? Is it core gamers, or casual gamers picking up a 360 for the first time and seeking this no-controller experience?
Chris Lewis

Undoubtedly it'll be everyone - we will see, I'm certain, the core audience we're not only synonymous with now but we'll remain committed to. The experience will be attractive to large swathes of the core audience.

But this also does mean for us a new phase in the life cycle - it does mean us therefore reaching out to audiences that are younger, older, female. In particular Ubisoft showed one game at E3, Your Shape, which we think will very much appeal to the female audience - that we've perhaps not been as connected with in the past, as well as families.

So from our point of view Kinect is accessible, it's fun, there is no barrier between you and the experience - there is no physical controller outside of your own body, and from our point of view therefore we think it's the biggest expansion story in Xbox history.

I'd say again, that doesn't mean we're walking away or forgetting the core - it's not about mainstream consumer or core gamer. For us it's about a great experience for both.

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