Ubisoft jumps on Kinect motion-sensing videogame controls

Posted at 10/09/2010 11:10 AM | Updated as of 10/09/2010 11:10 AM

SAN FRANCISCO - French videogame star Ubisoft is showing off its moves with titles that capitalize on Kinect motion-sensing Xbox 360 console controllers set to debut in November.

Ubisoft gave the press a preview of its Kinect line-up at a San Francisco event where executives envisioned becoming the top third-party developer of titles for Microsoft's gesture-guided Xbox 360 control system.

"Kinect leapfrogs interactivity from what we have seen so far," said Ubisoft North America president Laurent Detoc. "Ubisoft is well positioned to be the leader in that space."

Ubisoft has been a longtime believer in motion controls for videogames and the potential for 3-D cameras to immerse players in the on-screen action.

The firm has seized the opportunity to work with Nintendo on titles tailored for the Wii and had action videogame "Red Steel" ready when the innovative motion-controlled consoles launched in late 2006.

Last year, Ubisoft put players into the action with a "Your Shape" videogame for the Wii that used a camera to scan players' bodies and replicate them on screen, where a virtual trainer coaches them through exercise routines.

Ubisoft worked with Nintendo to develop a camera to scan players' body shapes into Wii consoles for an exercise game that gauges what shape people are in and provides workout advice and feedback in real time.

"I've believed from Day One that you could play without any controller," Detoc said.

"Microsoft has made that dream come true and is going to bring 3-D cameras to the mass market. It is a wonderful opportunity for the industry."

Games Ubisoft has made ready for the November 4 launch of Kinect include "Motion Sports" that lets people compete in on-screen activities such as skiing, boxing, hang gliding and horseback riding using body movements.

A "Fighters Uncaged" title that proved popular at the event let players kick, knee, elbow, punch and head butt their way to victory or defeat in a street brawl against a fearsome looking opponent.

Japanese game maker Tetsuya Mizuguchi designed a "Child of Eden" title that challenged players to use pumps of their hands to hit targets darting about a swirling field of geometric figures while music played.

A "Your Shape Fitness Evolved" title built on a trend by Ubisoft to get videogame players up and moving.

The game used the Kinect camera to stream players' silhouettes into the game and track how workouts were progressing.

"This is incredible technology because it's you inside the game instead of an avatar," said 'Your Shape' brand manager Felicia Williams. "It gives you precise feedback on your movements."

Williams unveiled a "Your Shape" online community where players can throw down fitness challenges to friends at social networks and compare how faithfully or effectively they are working out.

"Motion control devices and cameras will take you to types of games that have real-life benefits," Detoc said. "This is just the beginning. Games don't have to be just shooting stuff."

Ubisoft sold more than 4 million copies of a "Just Dance" videogame for Wii and is releasing a sequel on October 12, according to Ubisoft senior vice president of marketing and sales Tony Key.

A song by Katie Perry will be available for free download to "Just Dance 2" in a move that signals Ubisoft will make fresh music available online.

An eagerly anticipated Wii videogame that challenges, and teaches players to dance like late king of pop Michael Jackson will be released by Ubisoft in November.

Ubisoft should have versions of the game tailored for Kinect and Sony's Move motion controllers for PlayStation 3 consoles ready early next year, according to Key.

"We think the dance category could be huge," Key said. "Every room you put 'Just Dance' in catches fire at a party. People love to dance."