Microsoft is making what sounds like a lofty promise for Kinect: By year-end, the number of available games for the Xbox 360 motion sensor will triple.
But given that six months after launch, Kinect’s existing lineup stands at a mere 26 games, Microsoft promise isn’t that bold. Hitting 78 games should be cakewalk, and it’s sad to see the revolutionary controller get such little support from developers and publishers.
Consider Nintendo’s Wii for comparison. The console launched in November 2006, and by year-end, the Wii had 45 games on the market. By the end of 2007, the Wii’s games list had ballooned to 215 titles. And Kinect is actually a faster-growing device than the Wii. After seven months on the market, Nintendo had sold 9.3 million Wii consoles worldwide. Microsoft’s Kinect hit the 10 million sales mark after four months.
Of course, quantity isn’t everything, and the Wii had its fair share of shovelware to boost the size of its game lineup, but I’ve seen no evidence that Microsoft won’t suffer the same fate. Of Kinect’s 26-game lineup, seven games scored a 50 or less on Metacritic, a review aggregation site. Only one Kinect game, Dance Central, scored above an 80.
I don’t hold Microsoft entirely responsible. Third-party developers can be a huge factor in a platform’s success, and so far they haven’t done a great job. Still, Microsoft’s delay in letting indie developers create downloadable Kinect games for Xbox Live Arcade doesn’t help. It’s especially disappointing given the innovation we’ve seen from bedroom programmers.
Clearly, Microsoft has a hit on its hands with the Kinect hardware, but unless it can come up with amazing software to match, Kinect risks becoming the next Wii — a fad — and that’s a shame because the potential is so much greater.