The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) celebrates its 15th anniversary next week, and to kick it all off Microsoft is holding an entire event on Sunday evening just for its Natal gaming peripheral. That in itself is quite telling, considering Microsoft is spending another few hours the next day with its "real" E3 press event.
So what's the big deal with Natal? Well, in short, it's a big adrenaline shot going into the heart of the Xbox 360 at a time when consoles of yesteryear would be close to obsolescence. The once-standard, four- to five-year cycle for consoles has given way to the 10-year cycle--something Sony pioneered with the PlayStation 2, which remains the best-selling console of all time, and is still having new games made for it.
This new, 10-year cycle ends up benefiting hardware makers who are able to develop cheaper, better hardware; developers who can more easily create games that fully utilize the system hardware; and end users who can stick with the same platform and not have to worry about having to upgrade. This last part though, is where Natal comes in. Just two months ago Microsoft announced that it had sold a total of 40 million Xbox 360s worldwide, but more recent numbers from the NPD Group show that to be slowing. Part of that, no doubt, is due to a price cut and redesign of the PlayStation 3 system from Sonyin August that has brought a resurgence in sales.
The answer to any waning interest then is Natal, which promises to bring an entirely new gaming experiences to both a platform and hardware that's nearing its fifth birthday. In short, it may be just be a fancy video camera, but it represents the direction Microsoft intends to take the console for the next four (or more) years.
Let's take a look at some of the things Natal is bringing to the Xbox platform: … Read more