Awhile ago, the gaming blog Kotaku quoted Shane Kim of Microsoft saying Natal's launch would be as big as a launch of a console. Well this isn't a surprise now that Natal is actually going to be new console from Microsoft. If yo don't know about it, Project Natal is Microsoft's new motion controlled system which completely removes the use of a game controller making the players entire body essentially the controller. Project Natal uses the latest motion capture technology to scan the body of the gamer and different objects, like skateboard for example, that the player can use. The player then uses their body to play the games.
there is a lot of stuff floating around the internet about Project natal and it being the cornerstone of Microsoft's next incarnation of the Xbox. So it has been confirmed that there will be a new Xbox console coming out next fall. Speculation has stated that the new console would be the 360 with a camera but it is shaping up to be so much more than that. It is said that it will be an entirely new platform with a new name. No one knows for sure what upgrades will be added to the new system but guesses are coming out like hotcakes and most believe it will be a slight upgrade from the current 360. It has been said that the new console will be backwards compatible with 360 games but future games will take advantage of the Natal system, which will come standard with the new console as well as being an add-on for current 360's. Games for the new system would essentially look and perform better however game developers will still be able to support the 360. There have been some complaints from top game publishers recently saying the 360 has reached it's limit in performance.
I know by now you readers are probably panicking thinking the 360 is going to be discontinued and games are going to stop being made for it. Well that is not the case at all. This new advancement with Microsoft is not going to be as extreme as it was from the original Xbox to the Xbox 360 and Microsoft has no intention of ending one console for the other. This new console is more of an upgrade to the 360, like the Elite was but with some extra "pep in it's step". Microsoft is only taking the current 360 system, upgrading it, repackaging it and putting a new name on it. We saw a similar thing happen with Nintendo. Nintendo took their GameCube console, attached a motion controller to it and called it the Wii. Microsoft has said that they are aiming this new console directly at mainstream audiences. They also said they plan to launch before the new Wii HD, which just goes to show youy that the console wars still has some life in its bones.
It's funny because Nintendo and Microsoft are both headed to the same format. The Wii has motion controller already and is working on getting HD hardware whereas Microsoft has the HD hardware and is working towards motion controllers. The only console not on this race is the PS3 which talks about having motion controls next year, but that's just for the Eye Toy camera. Natal is like the Eye Toy on steroids so I think it is safe to rule out Sony in the motion control field. They way things are going, it is a pretty safe bet that most of the advancements in future hardware will be less substantive and more iterative. The transitions from console to console could become less intense, similar to the upgrades in the hand held area of gaming. The advancements from the PSP to the PSP Go, the DS to the DSi, and the GameBoy to the GameBoy Advance have been less substantial than the transitions from console to console and these transitions could be how it will go from now on in the console race until the next really huge advancement in technology. Personally I'm hoping for full on holographic gaming i.e. Danger Room style minus the actual prospect of death.
There is mainly speculation on the new Microsoft console as of right now and it has yet to be confirmed when it will be revealed or when it will be available. A good bet is that it will be unveiled at next year's Game Developer's Conference at the earliest or next year's E3 at the latest with possible availability in the fall of 2010. A bold move from Microsoft that could potentially bury the other game consoles if Project Natal works as good as it is expected to.