Ex-Microsoft Studio Manager Predicts Failure for Natal - UPDATED

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Ex-Microsoft Studio Manager Predicts Failure for Natal - UPDATED

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Former Microsoft studio manager Scot Bayless predicts that Project Natal is doomed to failure because Microsoft refused to integrate the motion-sensing device into the Xbox 360.

Scot Bayless is an industry veteran with an impressive rap sheet. He broke into the business more than 20 years ago as a programmer on the SSI classic Curse of the Azure Bonds and since then has moved up to hold executive positions at Electronic Arts, Midway, Capcom and Sega of America, where he was a senior producer when the 32X add-on for the Sega Genesis was released. In other words, he probably has a certain amount of insight into how things work (and don't work) in the videogame industry, and he doesn't appear too overly optimistic about the chances of Project Natal.

"When I met with Microsoft in 2008 to look at Natal I asked, 'When will you integrate this into the 360?'" Bayless said in the latest issue of Retro Gamer magazine. "Their response was, 'We're probably going to wait and see on that.' To which I said, 'Then you're going to fail.'"

"Plays like this always fragment and the disincentive to developers is powerful," he added. "When I'm spending tens of millions on a game, the last thing I want to do is lose 90 per cent of my market."

Bayless' pessimism could be deepened if rumors about Natal's pricing turn out to be true: Early predictions had the motion controller pegged at around $50 but a more recent report claimed it will actually list for $149 as a stand-alone device, or $299 bundled with an Xbox 360 Arcade. Either way, it's a lot of scratch for what is essentially a novelty controller; I'd rather spend the money on a proper Elite bundle and take my chances with good old-fashioned button-mashing.

Source: NowGamer

UPDATE: I received an email from Scot Bayless saying that his comments about Project Natal had been taken out of context in the NowGamer report. The original Retro Gamer article was about the 32X and his point "was about how difficult it is to succeed with console peripherals, not about the intrinsic merits of Natal."

Bayless also clarified that despite the tone of the quote, he's not by any means a disgruntled former employee. He left Microsoft in 2002, six years before the Natal meeting, under good circumstances.

"My comment was actually offered as constructive feedback. I was very impressed by the potential of Natal, but my experience at Sega taught me that splintering your target market with peripherals is an extremely risky proposition at best," he said. "Most console peripherals don't succeed. A path to either bundling or integration for Natal technology, however, could be transformative."

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Maybe he's just a little paranoid because X upgrades fucked up the Genesis so bad...but yeah, I get what he means. If I had a 360, I'd rent the thing for a week, and buy as last resort. If it was in my console then you couldn't help but have it and maybe even buy a game from time to time.

Why did he leave MS?

The man has a good point, actually... peripherals in the video game industry have a long history of failing, unless their integrated into the console... in the same way, I guess the Playstation Move could easily fail, too.

That said, times have changed - Guitar Hero was a smashing success (was), and Wii Fit has shown that add-on peripherals can work, too.

I guess it just comes down to how the casual audience react... and also how much support third party developers will give the peripherals in the long term.

A shame. I liked the idea of Natal but then I realised I'd never be able to play games for anything longer than an hour or two at a time without getting serious exercise. Don't get me wrong exercise is good but its not why I play games, it's why I go to the gym.

Anyway he's probably right if the price is as they say. I doubt people are willing to pay that much for a peripheral if you can buy a wii for that price. Granted the Wii isnt great but it has it's moment.

Yeah.. Natal HAS to saturate itself into the majority of 360 homes if it wants any chance for success. I'm not sure if that call for damnation is better or worse being from an ex-microsoft employee who may be bitter, and also was heading the 32X debacle, but it doesn't take an analyst to see that the Natal needs to be in almost every 360 household for it to have any chance of success.

To be honest the reason I believe it will fail is because it is aimed at the wrong audience. Those interested in motion sensor technology already have a console that uses it available, and the fact that billions own a PS3, 360 or a PC capable of gaming even though it doesn't shows people don't feel the need for it.

He coils be right. Also the price is a little daunting...

Did it dawn on anyone that "Project Natal" was offered to Nintendo when developing the Nintendo Wii? Do I have to continue to add that Nintendo rejected it?

Microsoft basically became the new KIA.

Wii, $200.
Xbox360 + Natal, possibly $300.
Xbox360 Elite + 2 Normal Games, $300 (At least at TRU)

And plus, I already have a Wii, why would I want to spend $150, only $50 less than a full Wii, on a peripheral like that? Will Natal somehow unlock a marketplace of old classics like owning a Wii does?

I just don't really see the point of Natal is all.

I predict fail but then again I predicted Ipad fail...so what do I know.

The Guitar Hero example is the exception to the rule. In that case, you had a killer app that required said peripheral, and actually came bundled with it. It was both convenient because you got the peripheral with the game, and actually worth the price premium because it delivered a unique experience that you couldn't get elsewhere. If they come up with a similar killer app for Natal, then it will sell.

Hey, it's Abby.
She was honestly the only fun thing about Natal.

Molyneux was just plain creepy.

whoa, wait, microsoft is overpricing everything, while trying to milk as much money from ignorant consumers that don't ACTUALLY understand the value of what they're buying? NOOOOOO, that NEVER happens...

Seriously, fans of microsoft are fans of idiocy.

The Natal might fail if priced too high.

Even Nintendo has had it's share of bad addons which were too bulky and too pricy.

Heh. The guys is just sore at MS because he lost his job.

Natal is better than Sonys POS attempt which looks more like a sex toy than anything else.

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!

rembrandtqeinstein:
I predict fail but then again I predicted Ipad fail...so what do I know.

Never underestimate the obedience of the Apple fanbois. They make the Call of Duty fanbois look like dissidents.

It'll need a price drop and killer game. Just like everything else. Until then...novelty item.

Ahh... Curse of the Azure Bonds. I can still recall fighting those damned shambling mounds and otyughs - those SSI gold box games were awesome.

Regarding Project Natal, who really cares?

Make up your mind! Bayless or Bayliss!?
Also, I neer hoped for Natal, as I would neer get an Xbox.

Yeah, him and everyone else with an ounce of sense. . . .

I have my hopes fot Natal, don't let me down no MicroSoft...

Well if its $150, I won't be getting one - I'd like to play Fable 3 with the full interactive aspects of Natal but I'd prefer $150 in my pocket. If it was $50 sure, if I had enough games where it was useful, I'd get it, but $150; no way.

Call it an undue sense of entitlement or whatever, but $150 is just too much cash.

The problem with Natal is they keep claiming it's not just a gimmick, but then go and show how amazing you can play bowling, or jumping in a raft swatting stars! Or, have a lengthy discussion with an underage boy! Wow, what a great non-gimmicky thing! You can't just say it's not gimmicky, you have to actually show it sustaining itself.

This is a pile of dog shit. But it's NOT dog shit.

See how that doesn't work?

The difference being, dog shit does not cost $150 dollars.

By 2015 People may say natal was innotive and Microsoft pushed the boundaries of gaming or people may say Sony's tried and tested method of point and click motion controls was the sane idea. Don't forget sony at E3 09 metioned that they believed the only way to play hardcore games was with buttons (outplayed and bluffing possibly), but knowing microsofts love for money they will bugger themselves over by pricing their equipment too high so they will lose a lot of capital.

I've been saying that all along. No one wants to buy extra shit for their console. That's why Sony's EyeToy never took off and why after so many releases, the virtual band stuff has been dwindling. It's seen just as a gimmick if it isn't integrated because if the developers don't treat it as an important piece of hardware, why should the consumer?

I pretty much agree it's going to tank. None of the things I've seen it do so far have really impressed me. As a player of RPGs, Survival Horror Games, Fighting Games, and sandbox action games, in roughly that order, I have seen absolutly nothing about this innovation that seems like it would improve my gaming experieence with those titles.

How does Natal make my state management and number crunching in an RPG any easier? Having goofed off with the will, I've never really felt flailing around increased the experience of playing other kinds of "action" titles either, which is probably why it's failed as a hard core gaming console despite numerous attempts.

I mean sure, we've seen it retread most of what the wii does, meaning they could produce the same stuff the wii does for old folks and kids, but really what does this do in a practical sense for me?

Right now I don't know many people who are hotly anticipating it, because it's just not that impressive.

It's impossible to tell if the thing is really awesome and they are simply keeping all of it's applications close to their chest OR if it's really just a very shallow, gimmicky, niche product with very little plausible use for the core gamers making up the 360 player base. Sadly I suspect the latter because otherwise we'd be seeing tons of demonstrations, showing how much more awesome this could make your shooter experience or whatever (given that shooters are probably the best selling genere the system has).

If the pricing is really that much, I can get a new Xbox360 Elite + 4 games + 2 controllers. What does that tell you? No need for Natal, sounds funny but I ain't wasting caps on this one.

I know they have a pre-E3 show planned, but the fact they haven't shown us anything is unsettling. Sony showed us some samples of Move's wares, but it never really needed it. Natal actually needs it because nobody has figured out how this thing is going to work in complex games without buttons of any sort.

The lady in the picture looks pretty flexible, but I have reach.

*topic* I share the dude's pessimism. Perhaps dropping the price to $100 would net in a few thousand more sales. But this is Micro$oft; like hell it's gonna happen.

It will fail if its 150 a pop...it needs to be a more family friendly 50$,natal is a device that needs to be spammed at the casual and non gamer...only a cheap price will do it....

Legion:
To be honest the reason I believe it will fail is because it is aimed at the wrong audience. Those interested in motion sensor technology already have a console that uses it available, and the fact that billions own a PS3, 360 or a PC capable of gaming even though it doesn't shows people don't feel the need for it.

This 100x. I'm a hardcore gamer and I'm not interested in the Wii, but on the other hand I could see myself enjoying motion control if it was perfectly accurate and latency free.
This is what I think will be the make or break factor, this demand for precise controls is one of the things which separates "casuals" from "hardcores".

rembrandtqeinstein:
I predict fail but then again I predicted Ipad fail...so what do I know.

Lol, how could you predict that any product apple makes could possibly fail? They could sell an apple toilet brush for twice the price and make lots of profit.

dochmbi:

Legion:
To be honest the reason I believe it will fail is because it is aimed at the wrong audience. Those interested in motion sensor technology already have a console that uses it available, and the fact that billions own a PS3, 360 or a PC capable of gaming even though it doesn't shows people don't feel the need for it.

This 100x. I'm a hardcore gamer and I'm not interested in the Wii, but on the other hand I could see myself enjoying motion control if it was perfectly accurate and latency free.
This is what I think will be the make or break factor, this demand for precise controls is one of the things which separates "casuals" from "hardcores".

Hardcore these days are just casuals that play more and follow brands in the hardcore style....

Considering the only games anyone will likely want to play with Natal will be minigame compilations $150 will be entirely too high a price point.

I can't see how Natal will be any good at all for games like Fable, Gears of War, or Mass Effect. The lack of buttons means everything, including accessing menus, jumping, using items, firing weapons, and pausing will require hand and body gestures.

I can see Youtube getting flooded with "Haha, look at the retard jumping around and swinging his arms like a deranged monkey while trying to play Natal" videos. Maybe there'll be some entertainment value to it after all.

I don't know. This could actually be pretty good for playing real time strategy games on since it looks like you could pretty easily mimic mouse controls. Suddenly RTS's could be viable on consoles. I'm predicting that's what the Natal support will be used for in Fable 3 since it looks like it's going to have some kingdom management aspect in it. I don't know if the RTS genre could make a comeback with this though. It might if they release a bunch of them when Starcraft finally ships.

If this is sort of attempt to cash in on the "casual market" then yeah it probably won't be too successful. But still we don't really even know the types of games that are coming out for Natal yet.

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