LOS ANGELES--A year after introducing Kinect, Microsoft used this year's E3 press conference to show how it's integrating its motion-capture console add-on to Xbox Live and games, and pump up the non-gaming entertainment experience.
EA Sports, EA Games, and Ubisoft announced baked-in support for Kinect in their 2011 Xbox 360 games. Tiger Woods, Madden, FIFA, Mass Effect 3, and Ghost Recon Future Soldier will support the Kinect. Forza 4, Microsoft's racing simulator, will also support Kinect. All Tom Clancy titles from now on will be integrated with Kinect, according to Ubisoft.
We saw demonstrations of how Kinect integration will work, including players taking the reins of a horse-drawn carriage, and firing guns and reloading ammo in games using only body and hand motions and no controller. Voice integration will also be woven into many games, including Madden to call plays. A demonstration of Star Wars with Kinect showed how a player can say "lightsaber on," and then using motions, swing away with the lightsaber.
Microsoft cleaned up the look of the dashboard, and is bringing a host of new features for Xbox Live.
This fall Microsoft says it's adding Live TV to Xbox, though it didn't give many details on content partners. In addition, it's adding YouTube and Bing to Xbox Live, which will allow users to find more content to watch by searching the Web, YouTube, Live TV, and all services, including existing ones like Netflix and Hulu Plus. And via Kinect, using voice control means a player can search for the name of a movie, TV show, or game just by speaking it.
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Much of the beginning of the press event was dedicated to showing off new games, including Modern Warfare 3, Tomb Raider, and Mass Effect 3. Later came demonstrations of titles that will be exclusive to the Xbox 360: Gears of War 3, Ryse, Forza Motorsport 4, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, and Minecraft. For a full list, see our roundup here.
Microsoft didn't just focus on adults; the company also made a concerted effort to court kids. Or more likely, kids and their parents. The company introduced a variety of toddler-friendly games for the first time, including Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster and Disneyland Adventures. There's also a new feature called Kinect Fun Labs, which allows players to make interactive toys and create art using the Kinect's camera.
The final moment of the show was reserved for a quick peek at the upcoming Halo 4, which likely won't be available for at least another year or two.