The scrapped "Microsoft Zoo" shows an art style that has become familiar with Kinect-powered titles.
Microsoft's Kinect motion-tracking peripheral for the Xbox 360 has been wildly successful for the company, and one of the reasons may be because of its family-friendly emphasis. That emphasis has been criticized by some gamers, but that focus may have been Microsoft's plan to attract more customers with or without Kinect.
Screenshots of a scrapped game called "Microsoft Zoo" have been posted to Strange Apples, the personal website of graphic designer Anil Glendinning. The game was in the works at Frontier Developments, the developer behind "Kinectimals" and "Kinect Disneyland Adventures." According to Glendinning, the game was planned as a zoo adventure and animal interaction third-person adventure.
"Zoo was aimed as a family product and the art style of the UI was designed to target the game's key demographics of families and children 'tweens,'" he says on his website.
"Microsoft Zoo" was planned to make use of the standard Xbox 360 controller.
The screenshots show a use of avatars that Microsoft subsequently emphasized in Kinect-powered games such as "Kinect Adventures." Additionally, Glendinning's screens show the game using a traditional Xbox 360 controller, indicating that the game was likely being worked on before Frontier Developments was even aware of Kinect.
The silver lining for Glendinning and Frontier Developments is the game eventually evolved into "Kinectimals," a Microsoft-published title that was launched alongside Kinect on Oct. 11, 2011.
Though Microsoft has increased its emphasis on family-friendly games, its Microsoft Studios branch has still published a variety of mature-rated titles since Kinect launched, including "Halo 4" and "Gears of War: Judgment" recently. The balance of mature and family-friendly games has paid off, as the Xbox 360 as been the best-selling console in the U.S. for 26 consecutive months.
Microsoft is expected to announce successors to the Xbox 360 and Kinect at a May 21 press event. Information that is purportedly from leaked Microsoft documents has indicated the next-generation Kinect will come bundled with the next Xbox and be required for use of the device. The next-gen Kinect will reportedly feature tracking improvements and allow up to six people to use the device simultaneously.