Some early details on Microsoft's controllerless control system Project Natal have leaked out of a behind-closed-doors Microsoft tour of English publishers and studios. Here's the word:
- A sub $80 price-point. The idea is to get it as close to "impulse buy" territory as possible.
- 5m units shipped for release date.
- 14 games are planned for launch -- most will be first-party games from Microsoft-owned developers like Rare. Third-party games will come later.
These details are not confirmed, but they seem pretty reasonable to me, especially the price-point. While there's not much monetary difference between 80 bucks and 100 bucks, there's a huge psychological hurdle there. For instance, $80 seems like a reasonable amount to pay for a couple to have a nice dinner, but once you get to hundred it's like, "This place is a rip-off!"
Five million units shipping at launch seems logical (if a bit optimistic) as well. The question raised by this whole Natal thing (and PlayStation's motion-controller too) is: Have both of these companies entirely mis-judged their market? There's a chance -- I'm not sure how big of a chance -- that people just don't want to be jumping around and moving a lot when gaming.
Everyone has tried the Wii, and it's a lot of fun in a group, no doubt, but if you've ever tried to play a longer, solo game with the Wiimote, you have probably reached the point where the novelty of wagging the stick around gives way to boredom, and then frustration. Motion control works best with social gaming, let's face it, but I spend about 90 percent of my gaming time solo.
This is a big gamble for Microsoft and Sony; they could be be betting a lot of dough on a played-out fad.
What do you think of Natal? Are you going to rush out and pick one up on launch day, or wait for the reviews to come in?