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Microsoft Hopes to Make Natal Playable at TGS

Chief Xboxer Takashi Sensui fields questions about Natal, 3D and more.

Sensui celebrates a million sold at a Spring 2009 press conference.

Microsoft's hands-free controller interface Natal is going to see its full unveiling at E3. But when will the general public get to play it?

In Japan, that play chance will likely come at the Tokyo Game Show. In an interview with Nikkei BP, Japanese Xbox head Takashi Sensui hinted that Natal will appear in playable form at the September event.

"It was in limited form, but we introduced Natal in advance at last year's Tokyo Game Show," said Sensui. "This year, we'd like to ready a space for a wide audience to experience it."

(Regarding last year's show, Sensui is likely referring to a Natal panel that featured Hideo Kojima, Toshihiro Nagoshi and Keiji Inafune.)

TGS, to be held this year from September 16 through September 19, will be business only for the first two days and open to the general public on the last two days.

As Natal is due for release later this year, it's presumable that Sensui is aiming for the device to be playable for the general public in addition to business partners.

Sensui's comments came as part of the latest in Nikkei BP's ongoing "keyman" interviews, where the site speaks to top execs at Japan's biggest game companies. (Last week, Tecmo Koei CEO Kenji Matsubara was in the hot seat).

Outside of the playable TGS showing, Sensui answered a few more general questions about Natal's technology.

He first corrected the site's use of the term "camera" to describe the camera that the interface uses to capture your movements. The correct term, he said, is "sensor."

Asked if Japanese players might have trouble with Natal due to smaller living environments, he said, "There's need for a certain amount of space, but we believe the general home will be able to enjoy it -- and that includes Japanese living environments."

Nikkei also asked Sensui some pressing questions about areas outside of Natal.

Asked for his thoughts on 3D gaming, he said that the key for the technology spreading in games lies with the spread of 3D televisions based off content outside of games. Sensui noted that while Microsoft is currently keeping its eyes on how things go, the 360 hardware is already ready for 3D games.

Unrelated to Xbox 360, Sensui had some positive comments about Nintendo's 3DS. "I think it's an extremely good experiment. The play environment for portable machines is suited for 3D games. Because the perspective and distance to the screen are pretty much fixed, it's relatively easy to realize a 3D environment."

Sensui unfortunately skirted a question about the release of a slimline Xbox 360 model. Instead, his answer was more related to an Xbox 360 followup system as he noted that there would be a change to new hardware only when something emerges that cannot be done with the current hardware.

As a closing message, Sensui said "As was announced by Microsoft on a worldwide scale, we'd like to make 2010 the biggest year ever for our games business. One of the big chances to realizing this is, of course, Natal. However, parallel to that, we'll continue offering high end quality titles and a variety of services for Xbox Live."

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