A Rare view of the future of Kinect

Scott Henson reveals Microsoft's motion-sensing strategy.

Scott Henson is serious when he talks about Kinect creating magic. He believes that for its target audience, that's what it does. And as boss of famed UK developer Rare, that's the direction he is going in.

Here, in an interview with Eurogamer conducted at the Develop conference last week, Henson reveals what gamers can expect from Kinect in the future, and explains why Kinect Sports will remain Rare's focus.

Eurogamer: What improvements have been made to the accuracy of Kinect on the software side?

Scott Henson: Accuracy is an interesting word. Ultimately at the end of the day what you want is for the user to feel like they're in control and they're having fun. Last year we were throwing javelins and making big huge movements. This year we're throwing darts. From a consumer perspective, that's a fundamental difference. The idea you move your hand that far and we can track it and it actually makes a difference, and we can track how the hand moves down or up, and that will change the trajectory the dart goes: pretty big deal.

We're going to continue to make more refined movements, doing it in a way that scales between the people who want that fine control and people who just want to have fun. It's a spectrum we're working with.

Last year there were a lot of things we didn't know were possible. Kinect is in its infancy. It's just in its larvae state, so to speak. Less than a year after Xbox Live we didn't have a million users. We have 35 million now in 38 countries. It was six countries when we launched. That's a nice extrapolation. We've innovated quite a bit with Xbox Live. You're going to see the same thing with Kinect.

If you use Xbox Live as a proxy and you think about where we are with Kinect, we've got a huge journey ahead of us in terms of the kinds of experiences you're going to see.

Eurogamer: Kinect is fastest-selling consumer electronics device in history. Did you expect it to be so successful?

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Henson heads up Rare, but he had a hand in the launch of Xbox and Xbox Live.

Scott Henson: It's very exciting. You don't know what you don't know when you launch something new. We didn't know with Xbox 360. We didn't know with Xbox Live. You have these ambitions and these dreams. Did we have big ambitions and big dreams? Of course. That's the bet. Go big or go home.

We're just honoured. It's great because it validates a lot of things we believed, that there would be a lot of excitement and a huge potential audience around this. It bolsters our courage and conviction, if that makes sense.

It's like, OK, we think this is going to work, we think we've done a really good job, we've talked to thousands and thousands of people, we've got them in front of our software, they seem like they're excited, let's go see what happens. Wow, millions of people are excited. OK, let's do more. Let's raise the bar further. Let's push further, too.

Kinect gets to be one of those players. It gets to be one of the major things that's happened not only in our industry but in consumer electronics, that will define the way people engage and interact with entertainment. That's really cool.

Eurogamer: The second wave of Kinect games are designed to demonstrate improvements made to the tech on the software side. But how long before you outgrow the hardware? Is there a point where you will need to release a Kinect 2?

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Rare is putting the finishing touches to Kinect Sports: Season Two, due out this Christmas.

Scott Henson: We have far more ahead of us than we have behind of us. Far more. I wouldn't even want to begin to hazard a guess of when we think we'll hit the limits because we're just getting started.

We'll see more this year. You'll see more titles. You saw quite a bit at E3. There's a whole bunch of stuff we didn't talk about first party. I'm sure there's plenty of stuff that hasn't been talked about in the industry. You've got years and years and years ahead of what was released last year. It's a long road ahead. But I'm not going to categorise it with a date.

The bullish part is around software. Microsoft is a software company. That's the foundation, the very essence and ethos of why Bill started the company back in '75. It's why I joined the company. It's the brains of what we do. We've got a lot ahead of us with both Xbox 360 and with Kinect.

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