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10/18/2010
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Xbox Kinect To Appear On Oprah, Ellen

TV spots are part of Microsoft's half-billion dollar marketing push around new, hands-free control system for Xbox 360.

Microsoft is set to launch a $500 million marketing campaign designed to ensure that Xbox Kinect, a gaming system that combines a hands-free controller with the Xbox 360 console, is one of the hottest hi-tech toys of the holiday season.

As part of the push, the Xbox Kinect system will be featured on Tuesday's episode of "Oprah", and will appear on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show later this month. Microsoft also is planning numerous other promotional events around Xbox Kinect as holiday shopping starts to kick in. Among other things, Toys "R" Us will open its flagship store in New York City at midnight, Nov. 4, to mark Kinect's official launch date.

"The very first time we saw Kinect, we knew it would be a 'must have' item for the holiday season," said Richard Barry, Toys "R" Us' general merchandise manager, in a statement. "We are excited about the full day of activities planned in New York City, building up to the much anticipated sale of the first Kinect sensor at our flagship store in Times Square," said Barry.

Microsoft has also partnered with Burger King, Pepsi, and Kellogs to plaster Kinect promotions on food and beverage packaging. "The Xbox 360 team created a multiyear, integrated campaign showcasing real people at the heart of the experience," said Microsoft corporate VP Mike Delman. "Kinect puts consumers at the center of their entertainment, and our marketing efforts follow that same charter," said Delman.

Microsoft plans to introduce a $299 Kinect bundle that includes a new, slimmed down 4GB Xbox 360 console equipped with the Kinect sensor bar. The package also features Kinect Adventures, an exploration game designed to take full advantage of the Kinect technology. The company also is offering a $399 bundle that features a 250GB console with Kinect and the Kinect Adventures game.

Additionally, Microsoft will make the Kinect sensor bar available as an add-on for existing Xbox 360 consoles, at a price of $149, including Kinect Adventures. The Kinect bar features a camera, audio sensors, and motion-sensing technology that tracks 48 points of movement on the human body. That means players can control on-screen action simply through physical gestures and verbal commands. The sensor bar is designed to plug directly into the Xbox 360 console.

The roster of upcoming Kinect-compatible titles includes a Star Wars game from LucasArts that's due out in 2011, as well as titles from Disney. More immediately, Microsoft and its partners will ship a number of activity games in November that take advantage of Kinect's ability to mimic human body movements.

A title called Kinectimals (Frontier Studios) lets players interact with on screen zoo animals, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (Ubisoft) provides exercise routines with the help of a virtual, on-screen trainer, while Kinect Sports (Rare) lets users play simulated soccer, bowling, volleyball, and other games.

Kinect Joy Ride (Big Park) is billed as the world's first hands free racing game, and Dance Central (MTV Games) allows players to groove to tunes by artists like Lady Gaga, No Doubt, M.I.A., and more.

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