Kinect is not for us... not yet, anyway

Opinion: Microsoft's priority is shifting new consoles, says Tim Ingham...

What's in a price? When it comes to Microsoft's decision to launch a clever camera (okay, a very clever camera) at a higher cost than its current 360 Arcade SKU - quite a lot.

£130 is a devastatingly expensive gamble for any consumer thinking about splashing out on an untested peripheral - whether full-time mum or full-time fragger.

But that's because the standalone Kinect SKU isn't where Microsoft is placing its bets. It knows it's not going to be a crazy seller. It didn't even put it at the top of this afternoon's press release.

The solus Kinect camera is aimed at a small number of very specific Christmas customers - the dyed-in-the-wool Xboxolyte.

Whether it's an exorbitant attempt to woo a girlfriend to their green hub of gaming or a ravenous appetite for early adoption (coupled with an indestructible faith in Microsoft to deliver the goods), there will be hardcore gamers out there that will snap Kinect up for their existing 360 on day one.

Not a great number of them, but some - and good luck to them. Microsoft knows it, and that's why it can slap a pricetag akin to a last minute deal to Malaga on its new noir wonder.

More importantly, it sees little point in wooing the more cynical of their ilk just yet.

How can we ascertain this? Because of that new console bundle. Small, slick, unfiddly - and with less memory than an iPod Nano.

But when you consider that for £250 you'll be able to pick up Kinect, Kinect Adventures and a spanking new next-gen console, Microsoft's boddy-popping peripheral all-of-a-sudden becomes a lot more reasonable.

Not to you and I - 250GB-chomping types with cruddy, overused Xbod pads - but to them. The non-console owners. Those who flirted with Wii but never jumped. Those who Microsoft's marketing machine will be going full steam ahead to bedazzle before St. Nick pops down the chimney.

We suspected it back at E3 - when MS paraded an insipid software line-up of games that did little for Halo heads or Fable followers.

But now, post-pricing, we know it for sure. We're not invited to the Kinect party - at least not to the VIP area. That's for those who'll probably never know what turning on an Xbox with a manual button feels like.

Microsoft has installed bases to expand on, and we can't help them with that. They most certainly can.

Kinect's price will gradually decline, of course - and may even hit that £99 sweet spot just as some respectable, triple-A software is offered up for it.

But until then, all the dreams of what a voice-reading, ankle-monitoring, witchcraft-powered peripheral could do for hardcore games should be put on ice.

Whatever Mr. Greenberg may say, PlayStation Move is looking like the peripheral most likely to draw the hardcore this Q4 - and Microsoft's newly announced pricing structure suggests they know it better than anyone.