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Microsoft announces Kinect pricing and release schedule

July 20, 2010 |  9:00 am

Kinect Xbox 360 Microsoft said Tuesday that it plans to launch its Kinect motion controller for its Xbox 360 video game console on Nov. 4, well within the Christmas holiday shopping season.

The price? For consumers who don't already have an Xbox 360, Microsoft is bundling the controller with a console and a game for $299. For those who already have the console, it's selling the Kinect controller with a game for $149. There will be no option to buy the controller by itself, at least not this year.

Microsoft's Kinect is designed to let consumers play games without having to deal with traditional game controllers and their Byzantine array of buttons. Players can use voice commands or body gestures to control the action in the games, ideally making video games easier for anyone to jump in.

The $299 Kinect bundle is aimed at mainstream consumers who don't currently have a console -- a demographic that's crucial to Microsoft's plans to grow its audience beyond hard-core gamers and thumb jockeys. 

There's some fine print that buyers should be aware of before they spring for the $299 bundle. The console that's included in that package will have only 4 gigabytes of internal memory. Although that's quite a bit more than the Xbox Arcade console with just 256 megabytes of internal memory, it's still a fraction of the new Xbox 360's 250-gigabyte hard drive.

Another point of comparison: Microsoft's bundle will be sitting on store shelves next to Nintendo Co.'s Wii, which also comes bundled with a game, Wii Sports, and a controller for $199 (unless Nintendo lowers its price by November). The $149 controller bundle will also compete with Sony's new motion controller for the PlayStation 3, dubbed Move, at $49.99. Why pay $100 more?

Aaron Greenberg, a director of product management at Microsoft, argued that unlike the Wii, consumers won't have to pay for extra controllers or attachments. The Wii comes with one controller, and Sony requires players to have their own Move controller if they are to play simultaneously. Greenberg said Kinect will recognize multiple players automatically without the need for extra controllers.

Between the Move, Kinect and Wii, there will be a massive effort to get the consoles themselves moving off the shelves at a faster rate this holiday season.

-- Alex Pham