OPINION: Was Kinect a disappointment?

Was Microsoft’s Kinect a disappointment? Convention-hall wisdom already seems to suggest so.

Certainly, the over-earnest plastic smiles slapped over its claim of being family-friendly – a claim backed only by a parade of HD Wii clones, and an iffy Star Wars pitch – marred any optimism for the scope and potential of the camera controller.

After being billed at E3 2009 as the revolutionary Project Natal, the Kinect that emerged at E3 2010 appears unambitious. Unlike the first Wii unveiling in 2006, it lacks the ‘that looks fun – give me a go!’ factor. And niggling ‘it’s too good to be true’ questions persist.

Sony has the first Move advantage when it comes to next-gen motion control. The PS3’s controller launch in September will likely offer a smoother transition for those customers wanting to upgrade from Wii that Sony and Microsoft are keen to court.

But I consider Kinect a dark horse, and I don’t think anyone should rule it out just yet.

Like the Wii and DS touchscreen, it pushes the industry in a direction it hadn’t considered before. And those provocative questions are what video games can thrive on when at their best.

Sure, if 3DS arrives around the same time as Kinect, I know which ‘new tech’ my money is on.

But what we’ve seen of Kinect is just the start – hopefully the next wave of titles will fulfil its potential.

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