Phil Spencer believes Kinect was one of Xbox’s ‘biggest contributions to gaming’
Xbox boss says the peripheral helped expand awareness of accessibility
Phil Spencer has said he believes that Kinect was one of the key contributions Xbox has made to the games industry in its 20-year history.
Speaking in an interview in the latest issue of Edge magazine, the head of Xbox was asked what he thought Xbox had contributed to the industry, to which he replied that creating Xbox Live on the original Xbox then making it standard on every Xbox 360 console was one of the best examples.
However, Spencer then went on to the cite the Kinect as the second key contribution, an answer that may prove surprising to some given the peripheral’s less than stellar reputation among Xbox users.
“Was motion control the way everybody should play every game? I’d say the answer to that is no, in my view,” Spencer conceded, before pointing out that the Kinect and its games were still important in changing Xbox’s image.
“Prior to that, it’s not like everything was M-rated games, but when we started doing things like Kinect Sports and things from other developers – [like Double Fine‘s] Happy Action Theatre and the dance games –that really opened our eyes to the breadth of what the Xbox could be.”
Spencer also notes in the interview that the Kinect was the catalyst for Xbox’s future steps in making video games accessible to players with disabilities, citing “very heartfelt emails” from parents of children who couldn’t play games before the Kinect arrived.
“I look at the accessibility work that we’ve done – whether it’s the Adaptive Controller or software work that we’ve done – and I think you can draw direct lines back to Kinect.
“Not specifically the device itself, but just about what a gaming platform can mean to more people. And that’s a journey we’re still on.”
Kinect originally launched on the Xbox 360 in November 2010, and was a motion-sensing camera device which let players control games with their own bodies.
Despite the relatively high-tech gadgetry inside the device and strong sales of around 35 million units, reception to the Kinect remained lukewarm throughout its life.
The initial launch models of the Xbox One all shipped with a Kinect 2.0 camera included, as Microsoft was eager to make sure it would become an integral part of users’ entertainment needs.
However, the console’s Kinect integration was ultimately criticised and Microsoft started selling cheaper versions of the console without Kinect included, before ditching the peripheral altogether. The Xbox Series X and S do not support Kinect at all.
The technology lives on in other projects, however. Most recently, Sky announced in October that it was teaming up with Microsoft to release a new Kinect-like camera device, using similar technology, to its new line of all-in-one televisions.