This Day in Gaming History: The Microsoft Kinect Was Released

Microsoft Kinect ad

November 4, 2010

It was only six years ago when Microsoft released the Xbox 360 companion camera, the Kinect. The accessory offered a motion capture technology that could rival Nintendo’s popular Wii console.

Microsoft Kinect ad

When Microsoft announced the device at E3 in 2009, people were thrown through a loop. “Project Natal” was touted as being a brand new way to play motion-controlled games without the need for a controller. The system used an advanced 3D depth camera to track a player’s full body and map their movements to the in-game action. The device was also capable of control through voice commands with the presence of a built in muti-array microphone. As one might expect, these exciting features put many Xbox 360 users on the Natal hype train.

A year later at 2010’s E3, Microsoft would reveal Project Natal’s new name, “Kinect”, a mash-up of the the words “kinetic” and “connect”. It was also announced that the Kinect would be released in November 2010 alongside a new Xbox 360 variant. The new Xbox 360 S featured a new external look as well as the addition of a rear port for the Kinect to draw power from. In contrast, the camera would normally need to be connected to a wall outlet. The lack of an announcement regarding a new console would dismiss speculation that the Kinect would require a upgraded hardware to operate.

Xbox 360 S Kinect bundle

Upon launch, Microsoft launched an ad campaign for the Kinect with the slogan “You Are the Controller”, focusing on the product’s controllerless design. The campaign was wide reaching, being printed in various magazines, airing ads on television, and even featuring the device on the back of cereal boxes. The biggest promotion involved fast food chain Burger King giving away a Kinect bundle “every fifteen minutes” for the entire month of November (That’s just under 3,000 systems, by the way).

Burger King Xbox 360 Kinect promo
When the Kinect was released on November 4, 2010, it was a hit with consumers. It sold eight million units before the end of the year and went on to receive the Guinness World Record for “fastest selling consumer electronics device”. Critics also gave the Kinect a positive reception, citing its casual gamer appeal as its high point. Criticism was aimed at the steep learning curve for the motion controls and the uneven quality of games with motion control support.

So what do you think of Microsoft’s Kinect? Is it a revolutionary device that changed gaming forever or a useless hunk of plastic with gimmicky controls?

Let us know in the comments below!

Eric Hall2712 Posts

Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his biweekly "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.


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