Kinect is Xbox One's edge, says Harrison

Kinect is Xbox One's edge, says Harrison
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

May 24th 2013 at 7:25AM

Former PlayStation boss turned Microsoft exec says standard camera input is 'game-changer'

Phil Harrison says having the second-generation Kinect packaged with every Xbox One will be a 'game-changer'.

The former boss of PlayStation is now the head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment business, and his experience working for the competition seems to give him an added enthusiasm for the new features of the Xbox One.

"The fundamental, most impactful thing is that there’s a Kinect in every box now," Harrison told GamesBeat.

"There’s the ubiquity of the platform having Kinect whereas before it was always a subset. That made it difficult for developers to invest against 20 per cent of the installed base or whatever it was."

The combination of the new Kinect's greater sensitivity and the certainty that customers will have access to it means developers can afford to experiment with the device.

"Having it as 100 percent," explained Harrison, "that’s a game-changer."

"There are games that are not using motion but using voice in a very subtle way. The conversational understanding in Kinect for Xbox One is super sensitive and smart. It allows us to do some subtle things with voice that we couldn’t do on 360. You’ll see that at E3."

The motion control features of the Kinect initially brought quite a lot of attention to the device, but it has been the voice commands that have truly gained traction. But Harrison argues even more can be done with the tech than replacing traditional inputs.

"One of the things that I don't think we truly understand the significance of yet is automatic identity through Kinect," he said.

"If your wife or your daughter or your son or yourself starts interacting with the machine, it instantly switches to their choice of content, their profile, their personalization, their recommendation. That alone, that simplicity, is going to dramatically increase the number of people who want to interact with Xbox One."

Motion control took off with the arrival of the Nintendo Wii, which had an unprecedented appeal outside the traditional games market.

Microsoft thinks the combination of the Xbox One and Kinect 2 will have similar reach.

"By making it simple and instant and complete, it means we can get men, women, old, young to enjoy playing and interacting with the device," Harrison said.

"It's not just about core gamers, although they are incredibly important to our future. It's also about finding entry points for all members of the household."