Kinect Adventures
Gamescom 2010: Xbox Live Interview - Robin Burrowes, Head of Product Marketing, Xbox Live
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When Kinect arrives in November, Microsoft is planning to launch a new, alternative dashboard, designed to work specifically with the hand-waving, motion-sensing capabilities of the device. With a Kinect hub and gesture controlled navigation, flicking through content on Xbox Live will be like browsing the pages of a magazine, Robin Burrowes, Microsoft's Head of Product Marketing for Xbox Live, tells us.

Kinecct is also set to be a big part of Xbox Live's strategy moving forward, with a Video Kinect service rolling out to coincide with the launch of the glossy black camera. That's not all that's planned for Xbox Live though, with the service set to launch in an additional nine countries in a bid to expand its 25 million-strong audience and more “experiences” (that word again) are in the pipeline too, apparently.

We sat down and then stood up, and sat down again with Burrowes, who was on hand at this year's Gamecom to answer our probing Xbox Live and Kinect questions, and what the future holds for both the service and the device.

Can you flick through the new dashboard pages and use Kinect's motion-control functions while you're sat on your couch?

Yeah, absolutely. You don't have to stand up. There was a lot of scepticism at E3 and there was an article on 1UP that spread some unfortunate rumours about the set-up. Well, I can show you that we've improved things in terms of set-up. The new dashboard for Kinect is completely complimentary too, so you can either carry on using the controller, or you can jump in and start using the motion-control as well. I would stress that it's optimised for sitting on a couch, but again, users will have choice, so if I still want to use a controller to surf and navigate through my movies or dashboard, I can do that.

Is adding Kinect Video chat services and talks of integrating Bing search capabilities the first step towards an Xbox Live web browser?

There are no plans for any browser-based services. We certainly believe that in having things like enhanced social entertainment and gaming experiences cater more for the living room versus a classic browser, so no typing a URL. Our mission is to continue to bring living room-centric experiences to Xbox Live, so no, there are no plans for a browser.

What about potentially using voice recognition via Kinect to say an URL rather than typing it out?

There could be a number of usability scenarios we'd have to sort before we tackle that and it's fair to say that we have a very complex set of variables for that, but voice functionality for a kick off will be used to very much enhance gaming and entertainment capabilities and enhance the navigation throughout various services. What we're working on now is the specifics of voice and how we roll that out and so we'll come back and address that in due course. But it's not our plan to introduce any kind of browser-based service on Xbox Live.

Are there plans to keep expanding the vocabulary of words that Kinect will be able recognise with updates?

Sure. Xbox Live as you've seen – if you rewind back to 2002, 2003 and look at where we are now – we've very much scaled our business globally and in terms of the services that we now provide. Voice will have the opportunity to be scaled in many different ways, but it is a very complex beast to tackle in terms of accents, dialects and regionalisation, but we're very considerate towards the individual user experiences and there will be very, very stringent user scenarios. But of course yes, we'll have a lot of research for that usability to ensure that we're doing the right thing at the right time in the right countries.
Will Sky and ESPN see any enhancements for Kinect?

There's nothing specific in terms of how exactly we're going to enhance Sky with Kinect. Certainly, that's something that we're working on right now and it's part of our 'road map' to continue to enhance the Sky service with more suitable offerings for it. But yes, there's nothing specific at this stage. ESPN will be US-only in terms of the environment that's available in and Sky has gone down very well with our audience base in the UK, with things like 'party mode' for watching live sports together with friends over Xbox Live.

Will these new dashboard and movie navigating elements be marketed as part of the Kinect launch strategy too?

Absolutely. All of the Xbox Live enhancements coming with Kinect are well and truly part of our framework. Other things that will be happening in the UK at the time... We're actually launching a family subscription, so you can get four subscriptions for the price of two and there are enhanced family controls that will come with that. There'll be behaviour monitoring controls on, as well as a bunch of family programmes and stuff that we're working on right now.

Do you think that Kinect's navigational capabilities and movie functionality will gravitate more towards core gamers?

I think entertainment consumption doesn't have to appeal to a particular disposition, and it's – and I use this term loosely – mainstream entertainment content that both core gamers and more casual gamers will respond to.

But how about more in terms of the device itself? These are selling points other than the software, that could convince core gamers to adopt Kinect.

It's definitely an opportunity to provide core gamers with that natural user-navigation as a technological innovation, I guess. Browsing content that they like in a way that they want to from a motion perspective, and the potential for gaming scenarios that we should be dialling up a lot more. You've got an alternative the headset, the ability to talk through the microphone and sound effects and voice effects from people when you're playing collaboratively or competitively, available through the microphone.

How will Kinect get around the problem of being able to control what goes through to the person on the other end without a headset? One of the advantages of using a headset is that you're in control and you can perhaps listen to music too while you're playing without it interfering with the voice chat.

Users will have options in how they control their experiences. If you want to play games and listen to music, you can still absolutely do this. If you want to use the microphone with Kinect to enhance your experience within a room, you can do so. Or if you want to continue to use the headset, then it's up to you.

What would you do with the controller then? Would you put it in your pocket? The headset has to be plugged into a controller.

Yeah, of course. I didn't think of that one. Again, we're learning a lot right now from a functionality perspective and I think in terms of that initial functionality and how people respond to which features and navigation from the dashboard perspective, which are popular, what people get and what proves to be intuitive or isn't intuitive, we're going to continues to learn from that and the audience will tell us what they want us to do with it, to be honest with you.

Presumably both Kinect and the dashboard can be patched then?

We're on a journey where for instance, early 2011 will see the free (for Gold Xbox Live subscribers) Video Kinect service, which will connect with Windows Live Messenger, so from a webcam enabled PC to Kinect through the TV will give you cross-platform compatibility. That's just one example for 2011, and there will be a lot more enhancements coming as we scale up Kinect more and more and scale up the services as well.

Will we see BBC iPlayer coming to Xbox Live any time soon although it conflicts with Microsoft's Gold service? Will it perhaps be available for both Silver and Gold subscribers one day?

We acknowledge and appreciate the unique scenario with the BBC in the UK and the service they're offering, but I'd say first and foremost from an Xbox Live perspective, we want to continue to enhance the value proposition of Gold. So, again if I rewind back in time again to 2003to the launch of Xbox Live in the UK and Europe, it was really only a core gaming proposition with the headset and a limited set of game offers and seven and a half years later, we've completely transformed the experience to be far more immersive. We've got more social, more entertainment and more communication capabilities and so we want to continue to drive activity behind the Xbox Live Gold  proposition, so we are looking to scale the right partners at the right time. We'll continue to work on that, whether it be with Zune or whatever. But with the BBC, there's no plan at this present time to bring it to the Xbox Live service in the UK.

People don't mind paying for their Gold memberships so much, but when they can't get access to something like iPlayer like on the PS3, it seems like it would make good sense to put the service onto Silver for free and then enable it for Gold subscribers. It would strengthen both Xbox Live Gold and Silver packages as a unit.

We understand that scenario and we do want to make sure that we do listen to our audience and deliver the kinds of experiences that they want. However, our business model in terms of Gold will remain intact and there's no plans to review it at this present time.

What about YouTube functionality, being able to share and watch videos, like say Just Cause 2 on PS3? Could that be something that might be implemented on Xbox Live in the future?

I can see some scenarios for that in the future, but first and foremost, we're building our global base, launching in nine new countries this year, launching all the new enhancements that we've come up with, launching Zune and ESPN in the US. But we're being very careful with the types of experiences that we introduce. We have to be sure that any new experience we adopt has a usability and capability that protects the user experience by being stable and usable.

We do realise the potential popularity of something like YouTube on Xbox Live, but there's nothing specific for now, but we are always looking for ways to enhance the video service and I know that there's going to be some announcements regarding some partnerships towards the end of 2010. We recognise that our audience want to move at a particular pace, and we are listening, but we are also moving at our own pace as quickly as we can and there are a number of complexities for the enhancements and services we're creating, like the Windows 7 phone for instance, which has taken  a lot of work to incorporate gamerscore, achievements and avatars.

In terms of adding extra value to Xbox Live Gold memberships, would you ever consider giving away free content like Sony has been doing via its recent premium PlayStation Plus service?

I can only talk to our own audience. We've got very high customer service results and we believe that seamless stable online gaming and the other services we provide, is great value for money. And we continue to enrich it with things like Sky, Video Kinect, Facebook and Twitter for Gold subscribers, as well as the stability within our gaming platform, with matchmaking, TrueSkill and Xbox Live Party capabilities enhancing connectivity with friends. Those are the IP that we've got behind our service and that's why it's the most robust service today. I can't really talk about the tactics that Sony has deployed, but I think users will move with their own habits. We run a rapid growth progression and if you look at our gaming propositions starting with Halo: Reach and finish with Gears of War 3 over a course of several months, and our exclusivity window on the DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops, I think all those things point to an effort to keep our audience happy and our audience continues to grow. We're moving to our own rhythm now and continuing the journey to keep adding value to Xbox Live.
Kinect is due out in November 2010.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 16
Comment #1 by Narley Nick
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:25:12 AM
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Sounds intresting.......

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #2 by tommybunnett
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:33:03 AM
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i just get the feeling they're trying to milk us for all we've got. anything decent and uv got to pay more for it

Forum Posts: 225
Comment #3 by Josh Benton
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:36:38 AM
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Basically they do not want to give any freebies and Microsoft are clearly trying to milk us and Kinect in the long run. Not surprised at all.

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #4 by Darkwizard85
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:36:49 AM
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Agree with #2

Forum Posts: 12
Comment #5 by Epic Gamer Will
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:47:40 AM
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Will get Kinect for christmas :]

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #6 by Mister MacGyver
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:51:56 AM
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well i doubt ill be buying the hyped up Kinect until i know something decent will be out for it for me to actually use im not forking 130 quid on something that ill use possibly 4 or 5 times on avatar game like joyride and other examples it might convince me if they integrate something into game like halo reach and call of duty and so on i heard fable 3 might have something but im not 100% sure

Forum Posts: 20
Comment #7 by Lonewolff 7
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:54:22 AM
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So the new price rise is to cover the new features for Kinect...But even if you don't have Kinect you still have to pay for a dashboard you can't use...Good old Microsoft logic at work as usual.

Forum Posts: 38
Comment #8 by Kroesis
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:54:25 AM
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At the beginning I thought 'this is a guy who has a better understanding than most when it comes down to what core gamers are wanting from Live' but then he started to lose that edge when he started talking about stuff that (from what I see posted everywhere) doesn't appeal to the core gamers, stuff like Facebook, Twitter, Video messaging to MSN messenger and the Windows 7 Phone.
Their stubborness to review their subscription model means that they're missing a trick with BBC iPlayer for the UK (the only thing for the UK in this article apart from reviewing their SkyPlayer service and launching a new way for us to pay them money) I know I use iPlayer a lot and would appreciate being able to use it when the wife is on the PC.
Finally, lol at the headset question about putting the controller in your pocket, I mean really.. who is responsible for market research at MS HQ? With that point and the Grey-scale buttons on the new controller, it seems to me that either the people conducting the market research or the analysts really need a kick up the arse.

Forum Posts: 38
Comment #9 by Kroesis
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:56:49 AM
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I believe that Mr Molyneux said that Fable 3 will not have Kinect funtionality at all. I can't see how Kinect would work with Halo or COD anyway.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #10 by x WALKER x x
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 07:02:22 AM
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there also making xbox live more expensive in the US, if it happens in England im converting to PS3, its taking the piss they may have added facebook and all this other shit but i dont use it i never asked for it and wont be paying extra, its games ocnsole ffs i just want to play games!!

Old Price New Price

1-Month Gold Subscription $7.99 $9.99

3-Month Gold Subscription $19.99 $24.99

12-Month Gold Subscription $49.99 $59.99

Forum Posts: 300
Comment #11 by toonsage
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 07:02:31 AM
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He sure does come up with scenarios a lot but nothing solid...lame-o

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #12 by Mr Jonnysniper
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 07:05:25 AM
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This is bullshit, he doesnt actually answer the questions properly, he just refers to old stuff. He doesnt say anything new about anything!. How stupid is it that people who are switching from silver to gold get rewards but for people like me who have been on xbox live for 4+ years get nothing. Its disgusting!

Forum Posts: 135
Comment #13 by Trevelyan
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 07:16:53 AM
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Pretty dull stuff really. Facebook on the 360 is just gimmicky - a browser is not. iPlayer would be great on the 360.

Forum Posts: 144
Comment #14 by morris69
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 07:24:08 AM
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I guess he has to be careful of what he says. He doesn't want to leak anything Microsoft may have planned for 2010.
I'm not for or against Kinect, i will end up getting it but i don't think i'll ever be able to justify my purchase. The fact that i can navigate with no controller is a positive.
The fact that XBL members since day 1 aren't rewarded sucks. A free arcade game or MSP here and there would be nice, considering how much money these users would have put into Microsoft.
As for the price increase for the US, well people in the UK have been paying that price since the beginning, so consider yourselves lucky that you've had it cheaper than us since day 1.

Forum Posts: 60
Comment #15 by Wtfmissile
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 07:28:44 AM
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"as well as the stability within our gaming platform, with matchmaking, TrueSkill and Xbox Live Party capabilities enhancing connectivity with friends."

I lol'd pretty hard reading that. Maybe instead of wasting time and money on silly updates they should have done years ago(the voice improvements, really MS?) and trying to cash in on the casual market like everyone else, maybe they should take that time and resources to fix the problems they have now.

Not saying XBL is broken, but it certainly has it's issues that need to be fixed, should have been fixed a long time ago.

I don't mind shelling out 50(now 60)bucks a year for a better online experience compared to others, but at the end of the day I'm starting to wonder more and more....what am I really paying for?

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #16 by mentalmac95
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 07:32:04 AM
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all xbox needs now is a free service like the psn provides and something like a web browser and the bbc iplayer and itv player and 4OD, some free content like dlc maybe twice a month, then it would be worth paying 35 quid a year for xbox live, im also sick of paying for xbox live when its not customer satisfactory like putting what we want in, microsoft are 2 f***ing greedy.

p.s add more channels on the sky player plz

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #17 by mentalmac95
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 07:36:13 AM
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you americans have 2 pay more because you get more features and better content and the games come out first over there, plus the xbox is originated from over there so obviously your'e gunna have 2 pay more, we can't have stuff like netflix or espn and other stuff

Forum Posts: 24
Comment #18 by Rogue x360a
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 08:49:13 AM
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You do know that the prices in the UK are going up too right?

Forum Posts: 38
Comment #19 by Kroesis
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 08:56:29 AM
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Only the monthly renewal price

Forum Posts: 144
Comment #20 by morris69
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 09:27:24 AM
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Only the of XBL gets a price increase.
1M Gold: 4.99 GBP

Starting Nov 1, 2010
1M Gold: 5.99 GBP"-Major Nelson

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #21 by Mrfishyp
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 10:34:18 AM
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Not a chance. This looks like a glorified wii. Which would be fine, except the games iv seen so far seem to be half the quality at double the price. What a bargain!

Forum Posts: 613
Comment #22 by Jordbrett
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 11:03:16 AM
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I remember when xbox live was 60 a year anyway. I told my friend they are raising prices and he said shit 70 now? Neither of us remembered the lowering from 60 to 50 so this doesn't really bother me. Kinect on the other hand as bad as I want one....why? Not a single core game!!! I'll wait til the ufc games comes out in Jan 2011.

Forum Posts: 51
Comment #23 by Dragonlightning
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 11:03:45 AM
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I have to agree with #15, more and more im starting to wonder what im actually paying for. I know the guy being interviewed mentions all the party chat stuff but i don't really think thats worth the money. Its not that im going to switch to another platform but i am starting to doubt if £40 a year is really worth it for XBL.
Its is also annoying how they keep announcing all these 'experiences' but make them region specific. Nothing like annoying half your members and dividing your audience.

Forum Posts: 290
Comment #24 by FroZeNSouL
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 11:08:20 AM
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ok enough ppl here get it and are pissed off.
Any one know a thread with the XBL forums where MS might actually listen???
Webb asked some inteligent questions, but at end of day was too PR guy who aint ganna do jack untill enough ppl complain, he might listen, but nothing will get done.
Ive been paying for 7years and have been happy till now, when instead of improving and "giving more value to Gold" they are now taking away.
Xbl orignal is gone, so is 1vs100, and thats all that stood out.
Now we're being asked for more money, for same service. And the only improvements are to do with Kinect, which surely ur paying for in the box!!
Yes it might be a more robust system than PSN, but at the moment MS is only giving us either Free services that we all ready have, or the chance to pay for more >_<
What ever happened to discounts for Gold account users that have multiple years of subsciption eh!!??!!

Forum Posts: 467
Comment #25 by NawtyCawty
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 11:36:01 AM
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Why didnt you ask him important questions, like why are all the half decent arcade games now a mind-boggling 1200 points?? Who gives a fuck about i-player or you tube. You can get them for free on your pc.

Forum Posts: 144
Comment #26 by gerowniko
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 11:36:29 AM
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Seems to me like Playstation Network is becoming more appealing than Xbox Live. Only reason I will stick with the xbox is because of the better exclusives I guess. But they are losing their exclusives too now, Mass Effect (2&3) no longer exclusive for xbox and pc, Gears of War ending with part 3 next year and Halo (probably) ending with Reach.
Microsoft really has to come up with anything good soon or I'll probably switch to PS4 when the next generation consoles are released. I have zero interest in Kinect the way it is now and I think Microsoft is putting almost all their attention on the casual market now, which I don't belong to.

Forum Posts: 25
Comment #27 by KanibalKittN
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 12:27:15 PM
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I remember 2 free things that they have given us (in terms of GAMES, what the console was made for).

First, for XBox LIVE being shut down for 2 weeks - Aegis Wing. Piece of shit.

Second, for some other reason, Undertow. Piece of shit. And it was only free for a bit, while i happened to be on vacation, so I missed it.

Forum Posts: 25
Comment #28 by KanibalKittN
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 12:32:38 PM
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@24, Yea I asked around for one of those also. I posted stuff on xbox 360 forum, but thats not one.

Once again, i guess,


Forum Posts: 275
Comment #29 by DarnedCargo
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 12:44:05 PM
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From what i've read and heard it seems to me that MS are hiking up prices to pay for services and extra features that i nor-many other gamers don't wish to have or buy when they're released.

now can anyone actually tell me why subscription prices have gone up?

And how did MS decide to put espn, hulu and all the other useless shizz that you can get on any computer with internet. did they do a servey? if so who did they ask??

I for one aren't really concerned with the price increase but i am concerned about the lack of information about what is exactly being done to improve or as some say " hinder " the current service and how they decided to make these changes?

Forum Posts: 41
Comment #30 by Tim 13
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 12:58:18 PM
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7, they're not going to design separate servers for those with and without Kinect. If they have to pay more money for bandwidth and the general upkeep of the features that will be added with Kinect's release, why should they give a shit about the people who didn't shell out for Kinect? They're optimizing the service for all, not for some.

I'm tired of hearing people complain about Microsoft. If you don't like it, quietly migrate to the PS3. No one gives a fuck. Unless you wanna be like the one million plus people who complained about the price of the Modern Warfare map packs, then bought them anyway. In which case, keep whining and reaching for your wallet. Or you can eject the whining part, since it's not going to make a difference anyway.

But if you still feel like you're being ripped off, buy Kinect and make use of the features that you'll be paying for regardless. Or don't; but either way, stop crying like your vagina is bleeding. Pay the men. If you don't want to, don't. Simple as that. God bless our free will.

Forum Posts: 128
Comment #31 by mistwhisper117
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 01:29:47 PM
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Forum Posts: 291
Comment #32 by ViNyLek
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 02:21:58 PM
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HAHA This dude is such a LOL!!! So to sum it up, we will charge our customers more and don't give them what they want, but what we think is best for them. I guess someone has some daddy issues^^ On the topic, I guess it is only right to stick with PS Plus and even if not, you can have all that Xbox Live has to offer in terms of entertainment and much more for free via their built in web browser. (Sure it's limited, but still beats selected content only). MS should have learned their lesson when they tried to rip their customers on HD DVD player which costed extra $150.. And why did it fail, because Sony puts their customer's first and would no be found charging extra for something that should be included in the core console (as well as bigger at that time HD). With worse graphics and worse customer service Microsoft fails again, but I will keep playing most of my games on it because not many of my friends have PS3^^

Forum Posts: 45
Comment #33 by hiden
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 03:33:11 PM
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As long as I can hunt down,kill and eat that yeti in the screenshot section of this page with my bare hands... Kinect is a first day buy...

Forum Posts: 393
Comment #34 by BlackTitan666
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 03:53:06 PM
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#12 I'm with you on that

Forum Posts: 759
Comment #35 by PANIC ATTACK 10
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:12:53 PM
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well i'm getting this, but all i want it for is gaming. if i wanted a pc, i'd buy one. no of this interests me. as for games, dance central, ubi softs fighter, micheal jackson:the experience, starwars is all i see worth getting.

Forum Posts: 25
Comment #36 by KanibalKittN
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 06:41:17 PM
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I bitched about the MW2 map pack prices. Then I got both of them for half off. Does that count as buying them anyway?

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #37 by CheesyToast111
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 07:04:57 PM
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Wait until Kinect is actually included in a game I want, nothing stands out for me so far.

Why is everybody bitching about Microsoft so much, I my opinion they deserve the money, Mircosoft has done more for the planet than any company ever will. And its only an extra £10, if you don't like go play the PS3 which is for poor people. (Before anybody says it I have one, hate it, selling it, any buyers?)

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #38 by Stoner Steve619
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 08:49:09 PM
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@33 ahahaha

but yea... kinect sounds pretty gimmicky to me, ill pass... for now

Forum Posts: 340
Comment #39 by BAD BLOOD BIGGY
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 @ 11:46:44 PM
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I can see why people would complain. Everyone has to pay extra and without any added bonuses besides support for Kinect, it can feel like a rip. Personally, I don't care about the raise in price since I don't pay for my PSN service. Now for Kinect itself, this guy didn't seem to give many direct answers, making me think that Kinect is starting to be over-hyped. For now, no games interest me. But if something awesome comes out for Kinect, or if Kinect games have achievement support, then I might buy it sometime later on.

P.S. #37 - PS3 for poor people? I feel that free service means more money for downloads and games, not that I'm poor. :D

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US November 04, 2010

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