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E3 games expo opens, Microsoft's 'Kinect' in the spotlight

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-06-15

The video games market has never been so competitive, but this is good news for gamers, as pressure forces innovation. At the E3 convention in Los Angeles, which kicks off Tuesday, Microsoft is unveiling its new motion-sensing “Kinect” for the Xbox.

Microsoft has unveiled its "Kinect" motion-sensing game system, which it hopes to put in the shops by November, just before the crucial Christmas shopping season.

The world’s biggest software company is hoping that the Kinect will be the star of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) convention, which begins on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, Microsoft has had to try to lure new and casual players to its Xbox, and steal a march on rivals Nintendo and Sony.

Microsoft wants the Xbox 360 to be seen not just as a gaming device but as a hub of home video and Web entertainment.

Company executives would not say how much the Kinect - which plugs into Xboxes and lets players control games with body and hand gestures - will sell for, though analysts' estimates range from $50 to $200.

Microsoft said 15 game titles, from developers including Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, will be available at the time of the device's launch.

Sneak peaks of upcoming titles include a LucasArts game, in which Jedi Knights do battle with light sabres, and a fitness program that lets players compete in sports from bowling to sprinting.

Sales down

The rush of technology comes just as the video game industry, which dwarfs the $10 billion domestic movie box office, needs a boost.

US industry sales - hardware, software and accessories - are down more than 10 percent at $4.7 billion this year through April, according to research firm NPD Group.

The arrival of Kinect may also put pressure on Nintendo, which pioneered motion-sensing gaming through an all-purpose controller with its Wii system.

Nintendo, which pioneered motion controls with the launch of hit Wii consoles in 2006, is expected to unveil more details about its 3D games system that requires no glasses at E3.

In March, rivals Sony unveiled a hotly anticipated motion-sensing Move controller, that it hopes will fuel new interest in its PlayStation 3 (PS3).

Move-wands that synch with Eye cameras on the consoles will hit the market in time for the year-end holiday shopping season, as will Kinect.

Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are expected to reveal rich line-ups of videogames that they hope will win players over to their consoles and motion control systems.

"This year's E3 gives the gaming industry the first real opportunity to prove that it's not just about making shoot-em-up games for testosterone-fuelled boys," Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said.

"This is because the secret to the gaming industry's future is the realization that game consoles are the most powerful device in the living room," he wrote in a note.

Date created : 2010-06-15

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