Gamers queue as Xbox Kinect hits Europe

Gamers at an Xbox Kinect 'Midnight Madness' event in the UK British gamers were among thousands who queued for the device

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Gamers around Europe have queued overnight to get their hands on Xbox Kinect, a new hands-free motion control system for the Xbox 360 console.

Stores opened at midnight for fans to buy the £130 (149 euro) controller, which Microsoft says offers a revolutionary new approach to gaming.

It uses a camera, motion sensors and a microphone to allow users to control the Xbox 360 without holding a device.

Kinect faces a battle with Nintendo's Wii Plus and Sony's Playstation Move.

Nintendo is launching a 3D version of its popular handheld DS console but that is not scheduled for release until March 2011.

'Family fun'

Xbox's Chris Lewis: "What this does is broaden the appeal of Xbox".

Microsoft hopes Kinect and its stable of family-friendly games will win the company a dominant share of the lucrative Christmas market.

Stephen McGill, Microsoft's director of Xbox for the UK and Ireland, said Kinect would "revolutionise" home entertainment and communications.

"It's about technology getting out of the way, being incredibly invisible.

"So you just stand in front of the TV, or sit down, however you want to play, and you just move your body, the game responds to you. It's incredible.

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No wonder the PR folks are getting excited - this has been a pretty mediocre year for the games industry, and they are desperate to give things a lift in the run-up to Christmas.”

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"Playing Kinect is natural, intuitive and brilliantly fun, and we're very excited to bring it to hundreds of thousands of families across the country this Christmas."

Kinect-compatible games available in time for Christmas include Dance Central, in which players try to match moves they see on screen, as well a number of other titles suitable for children.

Kinect, which launched in the US a week ago, is now on sale in 23 European countries.

Simultaneous launches took place across Europe, with hundreds filling a historic square in Munich to celebrate.

Crowds for the Kinect launch in Munich There were large crowds for the Kinect launch in Germany

In the UK, Xbox 360 fans queuing at a Game store in Milton Keynes overnight told the BBC's Newsbeat that the new controller would spice up their game-playing.

"I've had an Xbox for seven years and used to play it a lot but not so much any more. I'm just looking for something new so I want to try this," said Michael, 21, from Luton.

Mickey, 19, said the totally hands-free design was something genuinely new.

"It's a step up from what PS3 are doing at the moment with Move, which is a good concept, but you've still got a remote in your hand, and this is freehand."

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