Microsoft Places Half-Billion Dollar Bet on Kinect – Advertising Age – Digital
NEW YORK AdAge.com — How important is Kinect for Microsoft? How about a half-billion dollars worth.Thats what the company is expected to spend to market the controller-less gaming device for Xbox, and it will also harness a lot of energy from major brand partners such as Kellogg, Burger King and Pepsi and reap some newfound retail space in Macys. Microsoft declined to provide budget specifics. But even with that load of dough, early signs show that its going to take a lot of time before it can catch market leader Nintendo Wii. And to do so it might just have to leave Xboxs primarily male, core-gamer audience in the dust.Microsoft Corp.Going mass market may have been Xboxs only choice to win back its position as leading game console.”In terms of breadth of partners and digital, social and consumer media, this is one of the most comprehensive marketing campaigns in history,” said Robert Matthews, general manager-global marketing communications for Xbox. “Its a big bet for us. Were very bullish on Kinect.”Regardless of its mega-push to bring Xbox to the mass market, research firm IDC predicts Nintendo will lead console sales during the holidays. For the fourth quarter, IDC gaming analyst Lewis Ward estimates 8.2 million new consoles will be sold, with Nintendo outselling Kinects projected 3 million and Sonys new Move motion-gaming devices 1.5 million.Xbox “is not going to catch Wii in the fourth quarter and it may never catch Wii,” said Mr. Ward, who nonetheless said “we are projecting that Kinect uptake will be in the millions, so thats at least a good starting point.”For Microsoft, the silver lining is that Wiis meteoric growth is beginning to slow, but just slightly. Nintendo will be down from more than 50% share of the console market last holiday season to a little more than 40% this year, Mr. Ward said. Microsoft reported that Xbox 360 sales grew 38% in the third quarter and says it outsold competing consoles in the U.S. for the past four months.