Microsoft's Shane Kim thinks that Natal is more than just a gameplay gimmick, and more than just a reaction to the popularity of the Wii - in fact, says Kim, he views it as the key to the Xbox 360 "winning" this console generation.
Both Microsoft and Sony demoed their respective new motion control technologies at this year's E3, and while the PS3 wand is certainly cool in its own right, it hasn't generated as much buzz as Microsoft's Project Natal - in part due to the efforts of Peter Molyneux and his virtual 12-year-old English boy. Motion controls are all well and good, but if Natal does what it says it does, that could be an entirely new revolution.
Naturally, that's a very big "if." Still, Shane Kim is confident that it will live up to expectations - of course, as Microsoft Corporate VP for the Xbox 360 division, the fact that he'd say so is hardly surprising. Still, in an interview with OXM, Kim expresses belief that after it launches, Natal will be seen as more than just an attempt to capitalize on the success of the Wii. In fact, Kim believes that Natal is the key to Microsoft's eventual victory in this round of the console wars:
The generation isn't over, and we're not winning yet ... Our goal is to win, always has been. We want to have hundreds of millions of customers, whether that's on 360 or on Live, and that's our vision. That's what Project Natal is about. Natal is not about responding to Nintendo and what they do with Wii, it goes well beyond what Nintendo and Sony are doing.
This is about unlocking the potential and breaking down all the barriers that remain that prevent people who are intimidated or feel awkward with a controller in their hand - anything that prevents them from jumping in and having a great time with Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.
Big words, Shane. It's certainly easy to see the potential in Natal, but realizing that potential is another thing entirely. Will it get non-gamers to pick up the 360 as Nintendo has seen with the DS and Wii? Maybe, but will core gamers give it more than a second glance? We'll see.