When Microsoft first revealed its Kinect motion controller, I wondered whether consumers would really want to interface with games by waving their arms in the air. Apparently, quite a lot of folks do care about such a control scheme—2.5 million of them, to be exact. According to Ars Technica, that’s the number of Kinect units snapped up in the first 25 days of availability. Microsoft expects 5 million Kinect controllers to be in
in the hands across the room from consumers by the end of the holiday season.
What’s most interesting about Kinect’s strong sales is the fact that the device hasn’t been greeted with rave reviews. Joystiq was quite critical of the controller’s need to be in just the right room configuration, for example. Of the Kinect-enabled games that have been released thus far, only one, Dance Central, scores higher than the mid-70s on Metacritic. That sort of game seems like a natural fit for Kinect’s ability to track body movement, and I suppose it’s easier to dance like no one’s looking if your only audience is a bionic eye.
Although Kinect remains an Xbox accessory, a community of hackers has already risen to adapt the device for the PC. Microsoft isn’t complaining about the meddling, either. In fact, it’s claiming that Kinect’s interface was left open by design. Developers are taking advantage, and some have gotten Kinect to control Minecraft, the Windows 7 mouse, and instruments in GarageBand. Those examples barely scratch the surface of what’s been done thus far, and given that a number of the projects appear to be open-source, I suspect we’ll see quite a lot more from the homebrew community in the coming weeks and months. Indeed, Kinect may ultimately prove to be more compelling on the PC than it is connected to a console.