Microsoft Xbox Kinect aiming to woo core gamers

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Media captionDon Mattrick: "We've posted growth each of the past six years and are looking for our biggest growth this year"

Microsoft announced a raft of new features for its Xbox Kinect system as it looks to tempt hardcore gamers to the hardware.

Titles like Mass Effect and Ghost Recon will utilise the motion-detection system in their next installments.

Voice capabilities have also been ramped up, allowing users to access content by speaking commands like "Xbox Bing Johnny Depp".

The company says it will "transform how people enjoy entertainment".

The announcement came at the biggest gaming event of the year, the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

It is the latest move in Microsoft's war against the controller as the company intends the new voice search to negate the need for the traditional television remote control.

"This year by bringing together the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing, we are transforming how people enjoy entertainment," said Don Mattrick, Microsoft's president of interactive entertainment business.

For the first time, YouTube will be added to the range of video services offered through Xbox Live, along with Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Microsoft has already worked with television companies in the UK, France and Australia to bring live television shows to local audiences, and it plans to do the same in the United States and other countries.

Big believers

While 10 million Kinect systems have been sold since November last year, over 40 million Xbox gamers are still yet to get on board.

Microsoft, along with games developers, will hope the new titles will attract serious gamers who have not yet been tempted by the Kinect's mostly family-friendly array of games.

Among the titles planned for release is the latest in the long-running Tom Clancy series. Ghost Recon will let people use gestures to virtually dismantle and customise weapons.

Ubisoft chief executive Yves Guillemot said all future Tom Clancy games would use Kinect.

"We have been big believers in Kinect since day one," he said.

Image caption The announcements have not impressed some of Xbox's "serious" gamers

"What we have done with Ghost Recon and Kinect is something a gamer cannot do with a traditional controller," he said.

Trying to appeal to serious gamers is a flawed tactic, argued Ben Biggs, games editor for 360 Magazine.

"While I appreciate Kinect as a piece of technology, the Microsoft press conference has just highlighted how redundant it is to a hardcore gamer," he told the BBC.

"There's nothing that Kinect currently does that is either of any gameplay value to me or that cannot be replicated just as effectively by a controller or headset."

Deputy editor of the magazine, Dan Howdle, was equally unimpressed - suggesting yesterday's event was the "worst Microsoft press conference yet".

"Microsoft needs to take a serious look at its core audience and get things back on track with providing for their needs," he wrote.

"It promised to deliver to its core gamers, but instead it's filled their core titles with a bunch of Kinect irrelevances, and made 2011-2012 the best 12 months on Xbox 360 for eight year-old girls."

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