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Move vs Kinect: The War That Never Was

Jonathan Lester
Kinect, Microsoft, Motion Control, Motion Control War, Playstation Move, Rivalry, Sony, The War That Never Was

Move vs Kinect: The War That Never Was

The Motion Control 'War' has been a key talking point and bone of contention over this last year. We loved to paint a picture of Kinect and Playstation Move squaring up to face each other in glorious battle over hearts, minds and sales. Several industry analysts frequently compare the two systems; citing differing adoption rates, sales figures and forecasts at the slightest provocation. Start a forum thread about one of the peripherals and you can soon count on fans of the other contender to start flaming up a storm. Unfortunately, this entire state of affairs is based on a complete fallacy.

There is no Motion Control War. Move and Kinect represent one of the rare areas in which Microsoft and Sony are not in direct competition with each other... and it's both misleading and highly inflammatory to compare them on any level.

Move vs Kinect: The War That Never Was

Let's start with the basics: the two peripherals couldn't be more different in terms of primary function. Playstation Move is designed to provide an alternative way of interfacing with existing games and concepts, whereas Kinect's focus is to bolt an entirely new but entirely segregated experience onto the Xbox 360. And I'm sure I don't need to point out that they provide completely different input methods. They do different things. Comparing the two is akin to a ranking a PC keyboard and a Macintosh mouse... in terms of who's "winning." It's a complete non-sequitur even at this most basic level.

Target audience is the key distinction between the two so-called rivals. Both Microsoft and Sony are keen to suggest that they're targeting new consumers with their motion controlled wares... but as we've seen, they're simply not attracting them in any significant numbers. Because it's a lie. Move and Kinect are primarily designed to lengthen and refresh their own player bases in the wake of an unexpectedly long console lifespan that's causing both machines to stagnate. The target audience for Playstation Move is existing Playstation customers; and likewise, Kinect's primary audience are Xbox 360 owners who are looking for a new gameplay experience. Put simply, there's absolutely no overlap. Well... almost no overlap. Behold.

Move vs Kinect: The War That Never Was

It's worth mentioning that the humble Wii has a lot to answer for in this fictitious war of smoke and mirrors. For a fraction of the price that a Move bundle or even the standalone Kinect sensor commands, new casual adopters can secure an entire console... with motion control peripherals... and a killer app that works straight out of the box. What's more, there's a case to be made that unaffiliated consumers who are genuinely interested in buying into Motion Control tech already has a Wii- and if they don't, they soon will. Kinect and Move have unwittingly created a discount cut-price underdog out of the machine that arguably already dominates the motion control scene!

Even the sales models are wildly different. Kinect has made an enormously expensive bid to maximise its install base as quickly as possible- splurging massive amounts of marketing money in the process. Move, in contrast, is pushing for slow and steady adoption with gradual integration into every aspect of console operation. Both of these strategies are perfectly sound and will probably pan out in the long run... but don't delude yourself into believing that one peripheral will thrive at the expense of the other. It doesn't work like that.

Move vs Kinect: The War That Never Was

There's plenty to go around.

So why do many industry veterans, pundits and fanboys continue to compare the two peripherals at any given opportunity? Because it's great for publicity. Us journalists and 'celebrity' analysts thrive by fanning the flames beneath explosive issues like this, but the most important spin comes from the two publishers themselves. Sony's marketing division have tacitly admitted that they were delighted by people comparing the two peripherals... and were quick to capitalise on the erroneous fact in subsequent interviews and the (admittedly epic) Kevin Butler adverts. Inspiring rivalry provides perfect flamebait to attract increased visibility and higher sales... but the fact that this campaign was only relevant to diehard Sony fans (who would never have considered buying into Kinect regardless) is further proof of the massive disparity between target audiences. Rivalry sells- even if it doesn't really exist.

[Ever] since we announced Move at E3 last year, I’ve always felt like we were lucky that Microsoft made such a big deal with Project Natal. In a broader sense, we are categorized as ‘motion gaming’- if we were just doing Move, we wouldn’t have had as much coverage and attention from media and consumers. - Sony Worldwide Studio boss Shuhei Yoshida, September 2010

The moral of the story is that we need to stop treating Kinect and Move like bitter rivals. All it accomplishes is to entrench fanboys deeper into their dugouts... and makes the issue infinitely more difficult to understand for newcomers who need to choose a console- not a motion controller- to buy into. Both peripherals have succeeded in providing a genuine boon to their respective players and there's plenty of room for both in the marketplace. What's more interesting is to see what developers choose to do with the hardware over the coming months... and whether they'll be integrated into the next generation of consoles. When that happens, the Motion Control 'War' will finally ignite.

Add a comment6 comments
Gunn  Nov. 25, 2010 at 14:03

Kinda struggling to find Move in any online shops in stock.

Matt Gardner  Nov. 25, 2010 at 14:23

It's going to be completely categorised by software. The Sony line today that 'Kinect won't be able to do a decent lightsaber game', for example, completely misses the point. There's definitely room for the two to coexist, because they offer different things. The difficulty is going to lie in convincing developers to put the time and effort into taking advantage of each peripheral's unique strengths. For the Wii MP and PS Move that'll be pretty easy, but Kinect needs rather more specialist treatment both because of its USPs and also its limitations. With that in mind, I can't help but feel that by-and-large when it comes to multiplatform titles and widespread porting, Kinect will suffer.

Kinect won't be able to do as precise a lightsaber game as WiiMP or PS Move....but if built correctly it could be a fun Force Powers adventure playground...?

Jonathan Lester  Nov. 25, 2010 at 14:28

Sure, it's deservedly selling well- despite what certain industry analysts might have you believe. However, it's important to focus on Move sales seperately from Kinect in order to avoid creating a misleading false context.

Jonathan Lester  Nov. 25, 2010 at 14:36

Indeed- and I omitted that news story from today's roundup for that very reason. As mentioned above, Sony have ruthlessly capitalised on cynically exacerbating the imaginary rivalry between Move and Kinect- and will doubtlessly continue to do so.

Matt Gardner  Nov. 25, 2010 at 14:56

In a way they have to. Microsoft have spent much of their promotional budget telling people just how 'unique' Kinect is and spamming that 'You Are The Controller' mantra wherever they go. Sony, by contrast, can't do that at all...Nintendo would certainly have something to say. So in order to level the playing field they need to project the notion that Kinect is 'just another motion peripheral like Move' and that, under those conditions, Move wins every time.

There is a rivalry, but as you've said it'll all come down to install bases in the end.

wtfwtfwtf  Nov. 26, 2010 at 06:47

Great job. I love it when people gain common sense and give us the real view on things... Who cares if Kinect sells more? Its not the same device, its a motion tracking camera, not a motion controller like Move. Therefore we should think of them as seperate products because their games and functionality will be a lot different in the way they function.

We shouldn't care about things like sales anyways. We should only hope that the good things sell well so they earn money for making a good product.


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