Let me start with what it's not about:
- The Wii
- The PlayStation Move
Bottom line, as a gaming peripheral, Kinect is not a system-seller. And I think MSFT knows this.
What Kinect is about:
Kinect - and the sexy new redesigned Xbox 360 console - are attempts to out-Apple Apple. Look at this sleek, stylish, innovative device that can do so many things! Look at how it "kinects" you to media and other people and to the device itself! Oh, and you can play games, too!
And what of those games? Mrs. JPG's comment, when I showed her Kinectimals yesterday, summed it up: "This looks like the kind of thing you buy if you have young kids. Kinda dumb otherwise."
I don't blame MSFT (and associated developers) for releasing blatant Wii Sports and Wii Fit knockoffs for Kinect; they pretty much had to. Those of us who obsess over videogames and assume attitudes of smug condescension about the "casual market" tend to forget that population, however nebulous, has millions more members and infinitely more buying power than we.
Still, so far, Kinect is not impressive as a gaming device. Although it could work well, and there could potentially be some interesting games down the line - both possibilities remain to be seen - it is more noteworthy as an interface device. Kids will be easily sold on the games; MSFT is obviously betting that parents will jump on board if they already own an Xbox. The voice/profile recognition, social media, video chat, etc. are incentives for the rest of us, who are already oversaturated with party games.
The Kinect is not about games, though. It's about brand loyalty. It's about branding, period.
The question is: will it work?