CES 2010: Greenberg on Natal: ‘You have no idea yet’

We met with Microsoft’s Xbox Director of Product Management, Aaron Greenberg, during the 2010 CES, and it was there that I threw him some nifty game ideas for their upcoming body-sensing control scheme that they call Natal. I don’t think he dug any of them, but it got us chatting about how Natal will work in today’s games.

I said that the full-body sensing tech could be really cool in something like the upcoming thriller Alan Wake. I suggested that you could use your hand to point your flashlight around. But how would you walk? March in place? Yikes. No. Wouldn’t you need a controller to move around in-game? Greenberg told me that I was on the wrong track. He said that they looking at fresh new uses for Natal, and they didn’t think much of trying to shoehorn it into games as we know them today.

He also stressed that they are not out to replace games as we know them today. “The controller is not going away,” Greenberg assured.

When I tried to ask about what to expect from Natal, Greenberg told me that I couldn’t even imagine what was on the horizon. “You have no idea yet,” he teased. “We are working on completely new types of entertainment that go beyond the controller.”

I tried to guess anyway. I suggested some kind of hybrid game that could use both controllers and Natal together. Greenberg said that this was a definite possibility, and then proceeded to give other examples, reminding me that I’m forgetting about Natal capabilities like facial detection. Hypothetical, I’m sure, but maybe he was hinting at something.

Since he was giving me nothing, I asked when we could see an example of what they have been working on. I noted it had to be soon, as they announced that Natal would be ready for Holiday 2010. It turns out that seeing Natal in action at E3 2010 is a strong possibility.

Dale North