Microsoft’s belated disclosure of the space requirements for its innovative new Project Natal interface have struck many as being physically impractical for all but the large living room, with the controller demanding a “clear” space 4m (13 feet) deep.

The device (an Xbox 360 peripheral which uses sensors to interpret bodily movement) is said to require an area significantly larger than most other gaming devices, and more pressingly, larger than many homes or gaming areas can feasibly provide:

To be precise, you’ll want to clear an area extending at least 4 meters (a little more than 13 feet) away from the television.

That’s the back edge of the space to be taken into account by the Natal sensors.

In terms of width and height, the field of vision naturally expands as it moves from the Natal device to that back edge, ending up a little more than 4 meters wide and 2.7 meters high (about 8 feet, 10 inches).

Japanese gamers immediately noticed that this is larger than the size of all but the biggest Japanese rooms – as pictured in the below diagram, previously published by Microsoft during one of its more brutally frank moments:


Possibly this is a significant miscalculation on Microsoft’s part – a “clear area” 4m deep might be a reasonable enough expectation for an American living room centred on a large TV, but in urban dwellings throughout much of Asia and Europe such spaciousness cannot be taken for granted, and even if it could the hassle of clearing away intervening furniture each gaming session might be unappealing.

The 4m space requirement also rules out a significant number of more cramped bedroom and single room dwelling settings. Needless to say, a close-in “PC gamer” style setup with chair, desk and monitor/TV is completely out of the question.

It is not clear how well the unit will function in more confined areas, but it seems likely degraded operation will be possible to an extent. On the other hand, there are clear minimum and maximum range limits with Natal’s sensors which are unlikely to offer much leeway.

More pointedly for gamers (especially slothful ones), Microsoft’s gaming future apparently also involves a great deal of standing up.

Update: Microsoft has claimed their previous words were “misinterpreted” and that Natal will adapt to “all sizes” of room.

Considering that the system itself has physical minimum and maximum limits to sensor range and limited sensitivity, this rather reeks of damage control, as plainly the system has limits and an optimal play area whether Microsoft cares to tell consumers about them or not.

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    Comment by Anonymous
    13:55 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hell, it looks like anybody who wants to game in a normal sized bedroom is pretty damn screwed already.

    Avatar of Tateha
    Comment by Tateha
    13:47 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    4 meters is huge. for the average joe, that's usually the size of their own bedroom or mancave.

    looks like only the rich living in spacious housing would be taking full advantage of natal.

    Avatar of Imyou
    Comment by Imyou
    14:03 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, Natal's physically impossible for me, not that I planned to get it or Move. My room is too visually intricate anyway, I'm sure...

    I actually game at a PC desk, so I have to switch seats to the back of the room to play Wii too, but it does work if I do that.

    Avatar of Y10NRDY
    Comment by Y10NRDY
    13:31 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ohhhh, Microsoft. You so crazy.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:54 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Umm... 4m(METERS) is about 13ft(FEET).

    And it's depth. So, not sure about the width. I'm guessing as long as it's 4m deep, it doesn't matter your room is 1m or 15m wide.

    Avatar of Callysto
    Comment by Callysto
    11:55 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well this was designed by americans for the american family.

    I doubt microsoft cares much if the japan can acclimate because it probably already knows Japan isn't exactly teh friendliest of countries embracing xbox.

    Avatar of Riiku
    Comment by Riiku
    14:16 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I live in Russia and I have more than enough space in my living room. All I have to do is fold a couch. So, too bad for you guyz. And yeah, I repeat - it's MY living room. Har har har.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:59 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Нихуя страшного. Даром досталось - даром уйдёт. Har har har.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:14 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Translation: In mother Russia the couch folds you.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:43 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I dont have that space. I live in a very small apartment. But i have a Hayabusa from 2008 and a Subaru WRX from 2009. Much more fun.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:44 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    My haya is 2008 not 2007.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:48 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    like they care..
    they still thinking we are yellow monkeys

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:41 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don´t have that space. I live in a very small apartment. But i have a Hayabusa from 2007 and a Subaru WRX from 2009, better than any game platform.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:15 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I love the "USA" floorplan. Seriously wtf, 90% of the people do not have a house that nice.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:51 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Is too much space to do the ridicule!.
    Perhaps these are the requirements for a virtual orgy xD

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:50 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "but in urban dwellings throughout much of Asia and Europe such spaciousness cannot be taken for granted"

    Not entirely true unless you are refering to most Japan n HK houses

    Alot of Asian homes have dedicated entertainment room with beef up sound system n everything

    Avatar of Redsky
    Comment by Redsky
    09:36 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    4 metres for this shit? Microsoft is so fucked up...

    Avatar of fxc2
    Comment by fxc2
    09:42 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I never get this shit... If I wanna have fun standing up I'd go run outside or something...(I don't actually like running but you get the point).

    Mixing moving around with video games is like mixing martial arts with wheelchairs. Way to go America.

    Avatar of An Otaku's Opiate
    Comment by An Otaku's Opiate
    16:24 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Outside? Sankaku?


    Avatar of VillainousHanacha
    Comment by VillainousHanacha
    09:21 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not everybody in America has this kind of space, damnit.

    I'm a New Yorker, so any apartment containing 16ft square space unbroken by furniture here costs a fortune, like in the high hundreds of thousands or in the millions. God help you and your bank account if you want to get a house with a space big enough so that you can have a 16ft square space after furniture is placed.

    The only time living gets affordable is if you start looking for places under 400sq ft total (like where I live now). There is NO space in my apartment for something like this, as NO room in my apartment was 16sqft to begin with when we moved in, and now that furnishings are in place, we have no place to place furniture even if we wanted to move it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:20 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Heh... metrehs.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:30 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "urban dwellings throughout much of Asia and Europe"
    Actually if you look at any statists you will see that european houses are in average 35% bigger that american

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:34 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Put it on the ceiling

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:17 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    So the field of vision is a cone 13ft long and 13ft wide by 8ft high at the base. So at a more reasonable amount of free space you would have to be under 4ft tall to have it be able to read your arm movements while you jump around in front of it. Seems kind of pointless.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:56 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wow! All of you guys are much smarter than Microsoft! Are you really sure that they would be dumb enough to require that much space?

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:03 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    Avatar of Imyou
    Comment by Imyou
    14:09 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    lol... camera based games were on PCs like 15 years ago. Natal and Move are both progressions of the robot vision software that allows these apps to discern shapes etc...

    MS's twist is adding an IR camera (and illuminator?) to get stereoscopic and low-light vision, and by adding depth perception, even further boost its detection ability. Sony did not do that.

    Sony's twist is coloring their controller whatever way best contrasts with the camera's image, making sure it has something it can always track and recognize. A standard size and shape makes determining its 3D position a snap - but it will have problems determining what angle it's being pointed unless the software also watches your arm. The motion sensor will only tell it that it is being pointed, but I think that while you use the Wii cursor like a laser pointer, the Move will be more like having a mousepad floating in front of you that you'll have to wave the remote through to move the cursor - but on the bright side it will be able to track it through a WAY BIGGER area than the Wiimote can move without losing focus.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:36 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Oh fucking waaaah.... I live in a small-ass studio condo in Seattle and I can still manage 13 feet from couch to TV.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:34 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    So, let me get this straight, you need a 4x4m clearing of space to play Natal games? I don't get why you couldn't manage with a smaller space when all the Natal is doing is picking up movement?

    Does Natal really need 16 square-meters of space to tell if you're waving your hand?

    I really doubt Microsoft is stupid enough to think it would work with a required 4x4m space. That basically shrinks their potential consumer base down to a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the common populace.

    That basically means no tightly populated urban communities will have the space required to play the game. The huge buyer demographic of college students is immediately tossed out of the window. New York? Forget about it. All of Asia? Nope.

    Who is going to program for something like that when you're selling your game to a fraction of a fraction of your base? And before some XBox360 fan comes out to tell me that Natal is just another way to experience games and doesn't demand software programmed specifically for it, if it doesn't have those titles justifying its existence, it's only going to fade into obscurity.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:33 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Now not only poor people cant afford this, middle class also cant because of the space needed.

    Maybe it can be par with the Atari 5200

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:39 24/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Damn that American house looks nice. I wish I had a bedroom with a walkway leading to a study overlooking a garden.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:38 24/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    That is a rather ODD shaped house... its an interesting design layout. I'd love to have those kinds of gardens and plants outside my windows. The study has its own forest?

    Huge decking?

    The bed-room layouts are not so-good. And when it comes to American families... we tend to want the other bedrooms, especially the kids on the other-side of the house so that when your gaging and bounding the wife (or husband) they don't think someone is being killed... abused yes. :)

    PS: In small Japanese homes... that tiny. Isn't it
    awkward when the parents are having sex in the next room?

    A friend just rented a house. $1200 a month. 2000 square feet + 2 car garage. 2 yards (used to be a pool in one yard). It has 2 living rooms. Each bedroom is a good size. master bedroom bigger than the Japanese home pictured above. I want it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:29 25/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I can't help but feel like they've messed up.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:11 25/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This has been confirmed false.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:49 27/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It might work in arcades.

    Avatar of Zeick
    Comment by Zeick
    13:40 03/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    even if this was true you could just put a lens from something like binoculers in front of it

    Avatar of Egobrane
    Comment by Egobrane
    23:22 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I live in America and my room is plenty big enough for this. So is every other room in my house. And most of my friend's houses.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:09 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    unless u live in a box like japan its no problem, anyways i would want to be kicking and punching stuff in an area less than 13 feet.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:00 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    At least they did not shamelessly copypaste Wii remote just like Sony does...

    It's a good peripheral for eroge... hmmm....

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:15 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    No they copy DDR instead. mmmmmm

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:40 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The Japanese gamer is screwed by Microsoft

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:02 24/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    There is an 80% chance the 4x4m guy is from Dumbfuckistan.(USA) xD

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:20 24/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'll to push a table back a bit, but it seems like I have enough space. Large living rooms are a bitch to heat up during winter, but it's good to know they have their positive points too. ^^

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:03 24/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    what can u say. Microsuck is from the US

    Avatar of DJ_Zephyr
    Comment by DJ_Zephyr
    00:32 24/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hell, even my US house's living room isn't that big. I'd have to move the recliner, couch, coffee table... I'd have to basically empty the room, and even then I'm not sure if it'd be enough space.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:19 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    that counts me out, I play at my desk about 1-3 feet away at most from my screen.

    Avatar of Shadow-Phoenix
    Comment by Shadow-Phoenix
    05:06 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This is probably the maximum limitation of project Natal's fail becuase not only trying to cash in on a Wii gimmick but by limiting the space in which to play with the device would affect the sales of the product since not everyone owns a massive living room.

    I know i do but the point is that the whole idea of a device that acts similar to that of a Wii controller is quite questionably stupid and is nothing more than a cash in ideal for casual gamers.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:09 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I hope you're trolling..

    Avatar of Shadow-Phoenix
    Comment by Shadow-Phoenix
    05:19 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think you will find i'm not that type of guy who finds troling a fun past time, because that would be pathetically stupid since nearly all trolls are inbred retarded wastes of matter and care.

    Avatar of SaruDa
    Comment by SaruDa
    05:09 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Looks like I'll need to make room for a ps3.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:05 23/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    No one's gonna buy this in europe.
    Do they have any idea how high the cost per square meter is in large cities here?

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