Kinect was unleashed upon the world last year, in hopes that it would somehow boost Xbox 360’s sales to the stratosphere. Considering the console was on its 6th year, that seemed to be a daunting task. Some unexpected things have happened in the gaming industry and this was one of them. It worked, no doubt aided by the blitzkrieg marketing done by one of the richest companies in the world – Microsoft.
Coming into 2011, the Xbox 360 had a lot of momentum sales wise, dominating the NPD and laying the smackdown on its competitors, mainly due to the boost it got from this wonderful piece of tech called Kinect.
It was also aided by the plethora of exclusives and third party games that have graced the system so far. Along with the ever reliable Xbox Live Arcade games, there was something for everyone in 2011. Here’s how the system fared this year.
It’s no secret that Microsoft’s been investing more resources in Kinect, and hence we saw a lot of casual, party games on the system this year. While some of them were undoubtedly amazing like Dance Central 2, some were basically a cash-in.
But if you’re a Kinect owner, it’s fair to say that Microsoft did its job well in supporting the accessory.
We had plenty of good games like The Gunstringer, Just Dance 3 and Dance Central 2, and other games which had Kinect functionality built in, most notably Forza 4 and Halo Anniversary.
Now, the last we heard about the sales of Kinect was in March when Microsoft announced that it sold 10 million units. That’s a lot, and I suspect it would be up to 15 million now, especially considering that fact that it pushed 700k units during the Black Friday week.
Why is this good? It’s good because such an install base guarantees a lot of support from the third-parties. While the current tech is still in its infancy, this ensures that the later revisions get a lot more support. Kind of like the DS to 3DS.
Then we have Xbox Live Arcade which gave us gems like, Ms. Explosion man, Bastion, Toy Soldiers: Cold War, Orcs Must Die and The Adventures of Shuggy and so on. I’m really fond of XBL Arcade, and I even feel that it alone justifies the cost of buying an Xbox 360. This year strengthened that belief.
In retrospective, I feel that 2010 was a better year for XBLA, especially due to the fact that Summer of Arcade this year was sort of underwhelming.
Not that bad, mind you. Bastion was one of the best games this year, but when I look back at Limbo, the impact it made was much larger for the platform, especially as a timed exclusive.
When it comes to core retail games, there were many this year. When it comes to exclusives, you can count two or three, namely Forza 4, Gears of War 3 and Halo Anniversary. But the importance of exclusives has been over-exaggerated this gen, really. When it comes to sales, all these games have performed as per expectations, and when it comes to multiplatform games, no doubt, for me, Xbox 360 is the first choice.
Games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Batman: Arkham City no doubt run better on the Xbox 360, according to Digital Foundry, and these games are a huge time sink and a massive critical success.
But I really think Microsoft needs to invest into some first-party studios; they have bought Twisted Pixel recently to make games for the Kinect, but it would be nice if there are some studios that push the hardware to its max. I can probably give Sony the edge here.
When you look back at this year, it’s certain that Xbox 360 benefited from the insane amount of quality games that were released during the period, especially from the third-party studios.
That combined with Xbox Live Arcade games, it is certain that this was one of the best year for the Xbox 360, offering something for all sorts of gaming audiences – causal to hardcore.