Forget the new Kinect, what happened with the original?

commentary Even as the gaming world gawks at the next-generation Xbox One and its new Kinect, one CNET editor still wonders why he bought the original.

The Xbox 360 with Kinect.
The Xbox 360 with Kinect. Microsoft

LOS ANGELES -- So when is that cool, killer game arriving for my Xbox 360 Kinect?

With all the noise about the upcoming Xbox One, the new Kinect, and now a hefty slate of next-generation games unveiled here at E3 on Monday, it's glaring just how little attention was paid to the original Kinect.

Microsoft, you remember the Kinect, right? It's the original motion sensor peripheral that helped reinvigorate sales of the Xbox 360 and add a few years to the lifespan of the console. It was an unmitigated success from a sales perspective, as 24 million units of the peripheral have been sold since it launched in November 2010.

Well, that's great for Microsoft, but what about for the gamers? I got my Kinect a little more than a year ago, a birthday present from my now-fiancée. I remember hurriedly setting it up and downloading the free game that came with it, "Fruit Ninja," which kept me interested for approximately 5 minutes.

So, like everyone else, we rushed out to buy a dancing game, only to find the novelty wore off pretty quickly. Since then, I've struggled to find a game that's worth buying to use with the Kinect. In fact, I haven't bought one.

"Kinect Star Wars" was a complete bust, and the Kinect function is more an unnecessary gimmick on games like "Madden NFL 13." There just aren't any games that live up to the original promise of Kinect.

So, I have to ask, what was it all for? And were we all suckers for buying into it?

Yes, some folks like the voice and gesture commands that the Kinect enables, particularly for apps such as Netflix, and that is a neat feature. But it doesn't kill me to pick up my controller to navigate through menus.

Perhaps the new Kinect will be better, but that remains a question mark. There were only a few passing mentions of Kinect functionality during Monday's Microsoft E3 press conference.

Whatever improvement is achieved will have come on the backs of consumers who bought a half-baked product that didn't have a lot of game support. It's like those 24 million customers who bought a Kinect were beta users in a giant experiment to help create the more polished Xbox One Kinect.

It brings to mind's Nokia's old smartphone beta test campaign, which positioned every smartphone in the market as a test model for its finished product, the Lumia 900. While that campaign was largely tongue in cheek (and backfired badly ), the Kinect looks like the sad real-world equivalent.

If that's the case, Microsoft really needs to do something for all the folks that bought into Kinect early. So far, the rewards have been a few clumsy games and nothing really worthwhile to speak of.

Perhaps a rebate or discount for the new Xbox One, which now requires a Kinect to work properly, would be sufficient compensation. Or Microsoft could devote some of its vast resources to actually building a game where the original Kinect truly adds to the experience. Microsoft said it would continue to offer titles for the Xbox 360 -- here's hoping some are worth picking up for the Kinect.

Otherwise, Microsoft will have left 24 million customers feeling burned about a peripheral that currently collects dust. And that's not a good way to enter the next generation of gaming.

 

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