It’s not clear where the information is coming from, but 1UP Editorial Director Sam Kennedy writes that the camera will also be sold as an add-on for the Xbox 360. The new console will only upgrade hardware slightly, and publishers will be able to release games that run on both platforms.
I’ve said before that Microsoft should wait until the next console generation to introduce motion controls. That’ll allow the company to court third-party publishers and launch with the best possible line up of games. However, Don Mattrick , the Xbox division’s senior vice president, said at E3 that Natal allows Microsoft to “leap into a new era of interactive entertainment without having to launch a new console.”
Rebranding the existing wares while offering Natal as an Xbox 360 peripheral represents the best of both worlds. Publishers might be more willing to develop for Natal if they can sell to new and old console owners, and Microsoft could catch up with Sony’s Playstation 3 in hardware power without significant costs.
On the other hand, I’m not thrilled with the possible PC-ification of console gaming. It reminds me of the Nintendo 64’s Expansion Pak, a memory cartridge that improved graphics in some games and unlocked new features in others. Incremental upgrades are exactly what I don’t like about PC gaming. If the rumors come true, I hope Microsoft doesn’t push an upgrade on its existing Xbox 360 user base.