MS Natal Details Leaked Before Microsoft CES Address

Dennis Faas's picture

Word of Microsoft's upcoming video game console, MS Natal, broke last night but it didn't come during company CEO Steve Ballmer's much-anticipated speech in front of a Consumer Electronics Show (CES) crowd. Instead, news that Microsoft Natal will ship this year emerged thanks to a leaked video featuring former Xbox chief Robbie Bach.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hit the stage last night; the company had hoped it would be during his speech when further details about Natal were finally unveiled. Unfortunately, a video featuring Robbie Bach playing Natal was posted to Microsoft's Channel 9 developer site before the address, and soon after word leaked to everyone at CES. (Source:

What is Microsoft Natal?

MS Natal is Microsoft's response to the runaway success of the Nintendo Wii, which for the last three years has captivated old and young alike with its simple but engaging motion-sensitive gameplay.

In an age of under-the-hood Blu-ray players, intense online Call of Duty: Modern Warfare matches, and incredibly lush high-definition graphics, Nintendo has bucked the trend by ignoring all of these features and focusing on asking the player to simply move the controller as if it were a baseball bat, sword, or pitching arm.

MS Natal to One-Up Nintendo Wii

MS Natal performs a similar function as Nintendo's Wii. In fact, it's rumored that Natal will take Wii's better features and run with them, requiring the player engage their entire body, and not just their arms or wrists, in order to better compete with other players or against the computer. Natal was first unveiled at last year's Electronic Entertainment Exhibition, or E3, and has built steady anticipation amongst gamers ever since.

"Game Room" Extends Online Socializing

The video featuring Robbie Bach playing Natal includes one tid-bit we haven't yet heard anything about: something called "Game Room".

It's expected Game Room will be an Xbox Live function allowing users to create their own arcade in which they can play all kinds of old Atari and Intellivision games, along with new ones Microsoft and its developers will be working on in the future. Rumors are that each Game Room can be entered by multiple players, with the owner able to invite his friends over to try games out as a group.

As for the Bach video, it was quickly pulled and followed up with the sheepish Twitter tweet, "Sorry, spoke too soon, or, tweeted too soon." (Source:

With Ballmer's talk now out of the way, we can expect more news of Natal to emerge in the coming days and weeks.

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