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Microsoft Kinect Specs Show a Two-Player Limit

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Maybe this is a big deal, maybe it isn’t, but a UK-based retail site, Play.com, has listed the specs for Microsoft’s Kinect controller for the Xbox 360, and of all the specs, the one that stands out the most is the limit of two “active players” at one time; meaning that it can only calculate and translate the movements of two players at a time.

The Kinect will be able to recognize up to six bodies, but only two will be able to play. Perhaps the limitation is based entirely on the quality of the experience, rather than limitations of the hardware. It could quickly be forgotten if the games are worth it.

Maybe this will end up being a non-issue, as developers begin to wow us with the possibilities of gesture-based controls. But Microsoft has made no secret of its intent to gain a bigger foot hold in the family gaming market, which is currently dominated by Nintendo, and a large part of the Wii’s dominance in the family market is due to the “party games” that allow multiple users to play a game together. There is a reason that games like Wii Sports, Mario Party and Super Smash Bros. Brawl (all of which support four player games) are best-sellers. It is not just families either, but anyone looking to play games as a more social experience may be turned off by the two-player limit on Kinect.

Will this scare away potential consumers looking to the 360 as a possible rival to the Wii, or will it not make any difference at all? So far, early reports claim that the Kinect’s pre-orders have been extremely low. The cost of the hardware has been blamed, and it seems unlikely that the limitation of two players will help convince consumers to shell out $150 for the Kinect.

Below are the full listed specs. Readers! What do you think? Will you buy the Kinect? Does a two-player limit make a difference?

Sensor
Colour and depth-sensing lenses
Voice microphone array
Tilt motor for sensor adjustment
Fully compatible with existing Xbox 360 consoles

Field of View
Horizontal field of view: 57 degrees
Vertical field of view: 43 degrees
Physical tilt range: ± 27 degrees
Depth sensor range: 1.2m – 3.5m

Data Streams
320×240 16-bit depth @ 30 frames/sec
640×480 32-bit colour@ 30 frames/sec
16-bit audio @ 16 kHz

Skeletal Tracking System
Tracks up to 6 people, including 2 active players
Tracks 20 joints per active player
Ability to map active players to LIVE Avatars

Audio System
LIVE party chat and in-game voice chat (requires Xbox LIVE Gold Membership)
Echo cancellation system enhances voice input
Speech recognition in multiple

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Ryan Fleming
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Fleming is the Gaming and Cinema Editor for Digital Trends. He joined the DT staff in 2009 after spending time covering…
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