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Microsoft’s Kinect: Too Expensive For Casual Gaming?

Microsoft’s new Kinect motion controller will cost £130 when it is released in the UK later this year, the company has announced - a mere £20 less than the cost of its new 4GB Xbox 360, due to launch on 20 August.

Taken together with the additional £40-plus per Kinect-compatible game, all this adds up to Microsoft’s new widget being a rather expensive accessory for casual gaming.

Now, before bilious messages start filling the comments box, let us explain.

Kinect is a welcome revolution in gaming at a time when most companies are dragging tried-and-tested formulas - Super Mario Galaxy 2, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Aliens vs Predator, the list goes on - kicking and screaming out of retirement, to see them through the dark days of the recession.

Kinect offers something that no company has yet been able to offer - and we’re sure, if given more time to develop, it will become something great. It just isn't quite there yet.

When we were given the chance to get our hands on the device, the all-too-deliberate body movements, the noticeable delay between your movements and the movements of your on-screen avatar, and the general lack of immersion left the gaming experience feeling clunky.

As yet, the Kinect’s motion sensors simply do not appear to have the precision required for more hardcore gaming, and certainly cannot follow the rapid reflex movements needed for an FPS.

We’d even be hesitant to suggest that it offers greater motion-sensing reliability than Nintendo’s Wii - which can, at least, be played by four players.

Hardcore gamers, we believe, will be left disappointed.

Last month, Microsoft's worldwide head of product marketing, Ryan Moore, stated: "I think we know that hardcore gamers will be the first to go out and buy it, as they are with any product. So we know we have to have a wide range of experiences, from things like animals games to games that are more geared towards the core."

But with games like Kinectimals, Kinect Sports and Kinect Joyride being released at launch, and Kinect Adventures coming free in the box, the whole deal smacks of being aimed at casual gamers.

Whether those casual gamers will be prepared to pay £130 for a two-player gaming peripheral, likely to be only used the occasional weekend or to tire out young children, remains to be seen.

It’s possible they will - they certainly paid more than that for the Wii. But if they don’t already own an Xbox 360, will they stump up £250 for both? We doubt it.