Microsoft says that it’s planning on bringing “entirely new original experiences to life” with the addition of Project Natal’s controller free add-on later this year, not on reworking already existing games to make them Natal ready.
When Microsoft first showed off the controller-free Project Natal tech at E3 2009, it did so with both new content—Milo, Ricochet, Paint Party—and existing games—Burnout Paradise—with new motion-sensing control. Later, Natal-ready versions of Beautiful Katamari and Space Invaders Extreme were shown at Tokyo Game Show.
Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg told Kotaku at CES that we should expect more of the former, the new, built from the ground up Natal experience than traditional content repurposed a la Burnout Paradise.
“What we want to do with Natal is bring entirely new original experiences to life,” Greenberg said. “These are going to be brand new original games and brand new entertainment experiences that never existed before. Because there’s nothing else like it, developers are going to be making brand new content for us.”
That said, Microsoft is open to all possibilities when it comes to Natal implementation.
“There may be some opportunities over time, where because you have millions of sensors in living rooms, that there may be elements of games that will integrate Natal into it,” Greenberg added. It’s unlikely that Microsoft would frown upon Natal integration in, say, the upcoming Xbox 360 game Halo: Reach, as developer Bungie has hinted at in previous interviews, later clarifying that it wouldn’t do so until it “makes sense.”
“If you were going to make a Natal game, it probably wouldn’t be Forza 3,” Greenberg said. “So what would be a fun racing game that you would play controller-free would be different than what you would play with a steering wheel or controller.”
What Greenberg doesn’t foresee is a batch of motion controlled Wii games cleaned up and recoded to be Natal games.
“Because we are doing something completely original, I don’t think you will see Wii games ported over,” he said. “That’s one of the nice things about not doing the motion sensing controller, we’re going to have original concepts.”
“When you think about games and new experiences that will appeal to people that maybe have never played games before, I think you do get into a new category with the types of experiences we think about,” Greenberg noted. “I don’t think that puts us in a Wii category, because we’re still a high-definition console, we still have the online community—Live will be very much integrated into these experiences—so I think there’s a lot more richness that we’re able to bring to life with it. I think the type of games will be different.”
And, at this stage, Microsoft is focusing on those game being traditional retail games, not Xbox Live Arcade games or Xbox Live Indie Games.
Greenberg also says that we should think about Natal being used beyond games, including “lifestyle experiences, entertainment experiences and the ability to navigate the dashboard.”
“It’s not just about playing games,” he said.