Gamers 'underwhelmed' by £130 Kinect

Retailers are reporting that Microsoft's forthcoming Kinect movement-sensing controller has failed to create much of a buzz amongst potential purchasers.

The controllerless controller formerly known as Project Natal has recently been priced at £130 which, at only £20 less than a whole Xbox 360, seems a bit steep.

GamesIndustry.biz spoke to Don McCabe of independent game retailer CHIPS today. The MD says that most of his punters see the gadget as an effort to catch up with Nintendo's Wii, but don't consider it to be much of an improvement.

"When you see a new hardware product or a new peripheral, you normally see quite a response from the public. We're not seeing that, they're completely underwhelmed by it really," he told the gaming industry watchdog.

He also reckons that the overpriced peripheral is just Microsoft's way of using early adopters as guinea pigs. "This is more about things that can be integrated into the next hardware," he said. "I think it's 'stick it out there, see if it sells, if it doesn't sell we'll still integrate it in the next machine'."

Microsoft is hoping to boost sales of the new Xbox 360S with the launch of the 'wave-your-hands-in-the-air-like-you-just-don't-care' controller, but McCabe thinks the Redmond company has got its sums all wrong.

"I don't think it's going to add any new hardware sales," he said. "I spotted in their last response to a survey, they said it would lift hardware sales by 5 to 15 per cent. I think that's bollocks. You lift it by 1 or 2 per cent and you've had a result."

Microsoft has been chasing Nintendo's tail since the Wii turned social gaming on its head with its motion-sensing Wiimote and simple, gran-friendly software.

Although Kinect is an intriguing idea, at its current price we reckon early adopter sales won't be anywhere near high enough to either push the price down, or tempt game developers to take a punt on pouring millions of pounds into creating the kind of killer apps such innovations need to become succesful.

In McCabe's sage words, "Microsoft have missed the boat."