THQ's Experimenting With Natal, Doesn't Have Sony Kits Yet, Making A Peripheral Game


Posted June 26, 2009 - By Patrick Klepek

There's a lot for third parties to be thinking about right now. It's taken a few years for companies to wrap their head around the Wii but in the next year, we'll see most likely see a rollout of three new takes on motion: MotionPlus, Project Natal and Sony's wands. And that's to say nothing of the explosion in peripheral-based games like Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Wii Fit. THQ wants to take advantage of all of them, but to find out how, I spoke with THQ CEO Brian Farrell over the phone yesterday.

Microsoft wasn't lying when it said Project Natal kits were rolling out to its development partners. Farrell told me his company's been experimenting with the technology for a little while now.

"Oh yeah, we've had kits for some time," he said.

"I don't know how long [we've had them] -- 4 , 6 weeks, however long they've been available," he continued. "I'm not at liberty to talk about exactly what we're doing, but kind of like when we first got the Wii kits, some key development people are going 'okay, what can we do that's really cool here?' So, stay tuned."

There were a variety of Project Natal demos shown at E3, some ranging from casual (i.e. painting, smacking balls) to twists on hardcore favorites (Burnout Paradise). Farrell isn't sure where his company's strategy lies with Project Natal just yet. Project Natal is a different beast than Wii -- is it core or casual?

"It's maybe a mix and...it's just too early," said Farrell. "We're obviously looking at both. Our initial take is that it does seem to be more broad, the idea that you're getting new gamers or lapsed gamers away from very complex controls, but I don't want to rule out doing something for core because we've got some ideas along that line. But I think the emphasis there and I think the positioning from Microsoft -- [maybe it's a] better question for them -- but it feels more casual to us at this point."

What hasn't arrived in THQ's mailbox yet, however, are development kits for the motion technology Sony was showing at E3. Farrell said THQ has only "had discussions" with Sony about the rollout plans, and "don't have any of the actual, hands-on dev kits yet."

There's more coming from the company, too, something peripheral-based. Farrell was cagey about their plans, preempting his tease by acknowledging the profound influence games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band have had on the market the last few years.

"What we know is input devices matter now, whether it's new controllers, control mechanisms, things like Guitar Hero and Rock Band," he said. "We have a very interesting peripheral idea we'll be rolling out later, so I'm not prepared to talk about it now. Good input devices have resonated with gamers, so we're going to be in those market spaces."

Any guesses on what THQ is working on?

THQ's Experimenting With Natal, Doesn't Have Sony Kits Yet, Making A Peripheral Game


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