After years of trying to get players to use it, Microsoft is giving up on its Kinect motion-sensing peripheral for Xbox. The company tells Fast Company’s Co.Design that it has stopped manufacturing Kinect for good.
Originally created for the Xbox 360, the plucky add-on camera and microphone sold ~35 million units since its debut in 2010. Plagued by lag, a large living room space requirement for it to work, and too few must-play games in its library, the Kinect for Xbox 360 quickly became an expensive novelty.
Microsoft attempted to rectify that with the launch of its Xbox One console, initially requiring Kinect be bundled with every unit. Pressure from the gaming community and competition from its chief rival, Sony (which had its own console, the PS4, coming to market), forced Microsoft to eventually decouple Kinect and Xbox One. That decision may have saved Xbox One, but ultimately doomed Kinect.
“When we introduced Xbox One, we designed it to have the best experience with the Kinect. That was our goal with the Xbox One launch,” said Matthew Lapsen, GM of Xbox Devices Marketing. “And like all product launches, you monitor that over time, you learn and adjust.”
The biggest factor in the Kinect’s demise may be that it just wasn’t much fun to play. At least not for long stretches of time. Its gesture-based controls usually required you to stand or gesticulate wildly with your arms. Plus, there was never a true killer app game for Kinect along the lines of Halo or Gears of War. (My personal favorite was the quirky Fantasia: Music Evolved, but its charm quickly faded.)
The company says it will continue to support Kinect for customers on Xbox, but the fate of ongoing developer tools is uncertain.
Though Kinect itself is pretty much dead, its underlying technology will live on in the form of Microsoft’s augmented reality Hololens (which uses the Kinect sensor) and applications such as biometric security that use 3D tracking of the human face.
So, if you still have one, dig your Kinect out of your closet and thank it for its service with one last spin of Just Dance.