When Microsoft Kinect launched in 2010, it was initially a major success, and holds the Guinness World Record of being the fastest selling consumer electronics device. Over 24 million units of Kinect and its successor, the Xbox One’s Kinect 2.0, have been sold to the masses, and the device was even made compatible with Windows 10 PCs. However, interest in Kinect waned in recent years, especially when Microsoft began phasing out the device’s functionality on Xbox One. The result was the recent discontinuation of Kinect production.
While Kinect has been an afterthought lately, there once was a time when it was quite popular, and considered one of the hottest video game hardware items on the market. A number of developers attempted to cash-in on the Kinect craze, adding support for the device to their games, with box art often claiming that these titles were made “better” with Kinect. Many fans have likely forgotten that some rather big name games have released with Kinect support, and to recognize the device’s demise, we have decided to list seven surprising titles that had Kinect functionality.
For this list, we stayed away from Kinect-exclusive games, only naming titles that released with additional Kinect features or enhancements. Without further ado, here are the seven Xbox 360 and Xbox One games a lot of people have forgotten used Kinect.
Dead Rising 3
Like the majority of Xbox One’s launch titles, Dead Rising 3 featured support for Kinect 2.0. In the game, Kinect was sometimes used for motion controls, with players able to shake their controller to complete certain actions like knocking zombies off of protagonist Nick Ramos. Voice commands were utilized to lure zombies away from certain areas, though loud noises could also attract the undead creatures to Nick’s location, so players had to take extra precautions if their device was plugged in when playing Dead Rising 3.
Dead Space 3
While Dead Space 3 had lackluster sales compared to previous entries in the franchise, the game did try a lot of new things to woo players. Its microtransactions didn’t sit well with many, but the game’s implementation of co-op was praised by some, as was its increased focus on crafting. Something else new that Dead Space 3 did is less remembered: it featured Kinect voice commands.
In Dead Space 3, players could use over 40 voice commands to complete actions in the game, ranging from finding the next objective to reloading their weapon. Of course, a regular button press is more reliable than a voice command that could be misheard by the device, and so we’re not exactly sure Dead Space 3 was “better” with Kinect like its box art claimed.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Since Halo is Microsoft’s flagship franchise, it makes sense that Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary would support Kinect. Like Dead Space 3, Halo‘s Kinect features mostly consisted of voice commands, which could be used to navigate menus as well as complete combat actions. Using Kinect, Halo players could throw grenades and reload their weapons, but the Kinect integration was criticized for not being as reliable or fast as the tried-and-true method of simply pressing buttons.
Mass Effect 3
Instead of utilizing the device’s motion control potential, Mass Effect 3 uses Kinect’s voice commands. Unlike Dead Space 3 and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, though, the voice commands in Mass Effect 3 are actually rather intuitive, with players able to bark orders to their squadmates while sticking with traditional input methods for controlling Commander Shepard. Kinect could also be used to speak Shepard’s dialogue options instead of selecting them from the dialogue wheel with the control stick, which could arguably help one become even more immersed in the role-playing experience.
Ryse: Son of Rome
Ryse: Son of Rome‘s short length and mediocre gameplay failed to make a mark on the game industry as a whole, but the game still served as an effective showcase of the Xbox One’s graphical prowess and capabilities. This included support for Kinect, with the game originally built as a Kinect-exclusive title that would feature first-person gameplay. Once that idea was scrapped, Ryse became a third-person game that mainly used Kinect’s voice commands and gesture reaction to issue orders to squadmates.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Similarly to Mass Effect 3, the Kinect voice command functionality in The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is quite good. While there are over 200 voice commands, the device is best utilized for executing the game’s powerful dragon shouts, all of which serve different purposes. Players can also use the Kinect to navigate menus quickly in Skyrim as well, if they so desire.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist earned critical acclaim at the time of its release in the summer of 2013, but was criticized by fans for replacing Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher’s voice actor. Besides being remembered for the Michael Ironside controversy, Splinter Cell: Blacklist is also notable for its Kinect integration, allowing players to directly control some of Sam’s actions using the device’s motion control capabilities, as well as distract guards with voice commands.
It’s clear by the games on this list that Kinect owners had quite the variety of genres to choose from when it came to “enhancing” their experience with Microsoft’s motion control device. And while Kinect was initially white hot, the device simply didn’t have the same longevity as other motion control peripherals, and so it’s not surprising that Microsoft has decided to discontinue its production. Perhaps future Xbox consoles will revive the Kinect, but we wouldn’t count on it. In the meantime, any Kinect owners on Xbox 360 and Xbox One can still use the device to play the games listed here, as well as other titles that have been released over the years.
Microsoft’s Kinect has been discontinued.