Microsoft will launch its new motion-sensing Natal peripheral for the Xbox 360 later this year, a piece of kit that enables users to interact with their console without the need to touch a game controller. I’m sure there’ll be much trumpeting of the new add-on (pictured above, with a cretin) when it launches, but remember this: Nintendo turned it down first.
That’s according to a “top insider,” who spilled the beans to CVG. CVG’s mole revealed that Israeli firm 3DV Systems showed off an early demo of Natal at Nintendo HQ in Kyoto, Japan at the end of 2007. Microsoft signed up the tech in 2008, and revealed it to the public in June 2009, with (amongst other things) creepy ‘boy sim’ Milo.
In fairness to Natal, which does actually look rather nifty, Nintendo’s refusal wasn’t a comment on the technology itself. Instead, Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata declined the chance to sign up the device because he didn’t believe it could be marketed at a mass-market price. Says the mysterious informer:
“Iwata-San only ever invests in something he can guarantee will work for a Nintendo audience. 3DV showed off a camera that detected motion in 3D, and had voice recognition – but Iwata-San was unconvinced he could sell it at a Nintendo price point. He also had some worries around latency during gameplay.”
“Honestly – I’ve heard Iwata describe the prototype he saw at length, and it’s definitely Natal. What we witnessed at E3 was smaller and the facial [reading] stuff had improved, but it’s the same technology. We remain unconvinced Natal will deliver on the more sophisticated elements of what Microsoft is promising at the price they’re aiming for.”
There’s no confirmed price for Natal yet, but many industry commentators are predicting a price point of around $50. That’s pretty cheap, if it really is capable of the Milo demo I linked above. Which I don’t think it will be. So there.