Project Natal will expand Xbox 360 audience: Sidhe
New Zealand's largest games developer Sidhe has added its voice to the chorus of big-name publishers praising the potential of the Xbox 360's Project Natal gaming interface.
Project Natal is Microsoft's codename for a new Xbox 360 gaming platform that uses an RGB camera, depth sensor and multi-array microphone to control gameplay, rather than a conventional handheld controller. It allows gamers to play using nothing more than sight, sound and motion.
Sidhe business development executive Jos Ruffell said the level of interactivity provided by Project Natal was "very exciting" and gave developers a lot of scope to create new games, particularly in the racing and sports genres. The ability for players to upload images would also make it an ideal platform for "social and party-games", he said.
"What excites me is how Project Natal can open up the audience for games. It can provide a level of accessibility that comes from not having a controller - much like the Wii."
Sidhe developers had not yet begun working on a game for the platform, but they were considering options and waiting on more information about its capabilities and launch date from Microsoft, he said.
Judging from the reception Project Natal has received at the Tokyo Game Show this week, Sidhe is not alone in its excitement. Activision Blizzard, Bethesda Softworks, CAPCOM, Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts, Konami, MTV Games, Namco Bandai, Sega, Square Enix, THQ Inc. and Ubisoft have all praised the platform and pledged to develop games for it.
EA Sports president Peter Moore said the new technology could "fundamentally change the way players experience sports games. At EA some of our top development teams are experimenting with these tools with the goal of delivering a completely fresh take on genres like sports and racing".
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said the 3D camera's potential to make peoples' bodies the interface would create a new frontier for games developers. "Any barrier related to the use of pad controllers that may have existed for potential gamers is now abolished. Ubisoft is already taking advantage of this major evolution to design new types of gaming experiences and attract more people to play video games."
Microsoft has not given an official launch date for Project Natal, but the platform is expected to debut sometime in 2010. Project Natal motion sensors and add-ons would work with existing Xbox 360 models, a Microsoft spokesperson said.