Microsoft has confirmed the price of the Kinect motion controller and announced a new Xbox 360 bundle aimed at mainstream consumers.
Despite the lack of a formal announcement from Microsoft, pre-purchase options began to pop up at major retailers such as Amazon and Walmart pricing the device at $150 shortly after the device and its launch lineup were shown to the public at this year's E3. It seems that the retailer speculation was spot-on, as Microsoft has finally confirmed that the Kinect will launch in the United States on November 4th at a price of $149.
The $149 package contains the controller and a pack-in game, Kinect Adventures. A number of other games, such as Kinectimals, Kinect Sports, and Dance Central will be available on or around the launch date. For those that are curious, Microsoft has confirmed that there will be no way to buy the Kinect unit without the included game, at least for the remainder of this year.
Kinect, which allows players to control their games using only their natural motions and voice commands, has the potential to make gaming more accessible for consumers put off by the sheer number of buttons and triggers on modern controllers. Anticipating the fact that these potential customers are unlikely to already own an Xbox 360, the manufacturer has announced a new hardware bundle for release on the same day.
This $299 Kinect bundle comes with the slimmed-down Xbox 360, a Kinect controller, and the Kinect Adventures mini-game collection. Rather than the 250 GB harddrive of the standalone Xbox 360, this bundle unit comes with 4 GB of on-board flash storage. For potential buyers, one thing to keep in mind is that Microsoft has yet to release harddrives compatible with the slim Xbox 360. The 4 GB of storage will be fine for many, but feels small now that many Xbox Live Arcade titles weigh in at over one gigabyte each.
Aaron Greenberg, director of product management at Microsoft, doesn't believe that this is an issue. He notes that users can expand their storage by using USB sticks of up to 32 GB, adding that "you'd have to be pretty bad at making decisions" to purchase the Kinect bundle and immediately want a 250 GB harddrive.
When pressed about the fact that Microsoft's central competition, the Nintendo Wii, is priced at only $200, Greenberg pointed out that unlike the Wii, consumers won't have to pay for extra controllers or attachments. The Kinect will recognize multiple players automatically without the need for extra controllers.
With all three major manufacturers hedging their bets on their respective slightly-different takes on motion-sensing this holiday season, it will be interesting to see which approach comes out on top.