Microsoft's Project Natal to Ship in October, Wii Watch Out

Project Natal coming in October
Project Natal coming in October

Microsoft's (MSFT) response to the popular Nintendo (NTDOY) Wii is slated for October, when the software giant is expected to release its Project Natal motion-sensing Xbox 360 add-on, according to a Microsoft marketing executive.

"I have great news to share with everybody that Project Natal will be launched in Saudi Arabia on the same day it will be launched in the world. That will be somewhere in October . . . we will be in a position to confirm the date after E3, which is in June. But definitely, it will be in October 2010," said Syed Bilal Tariq, Marketing Manager E&D Microsoft, in an interview with Saudi TV station KSA2.

The interview, which was posted on YouTube Monday but yanked from the site Tuesday morning, can still be seen on gaming site VG247.

A Step Further: Controller-Free Gaming

The highly anticipated Project Natal is designed to allow users to engage in games using motion-sensing technology, like the Wii. The main difference, however, is that consumers will not have to use a controller.

Microsoft had previously said it would market Project Natal in time for the critical holiday shopping season but had not given a specific date for its release. Since the unveiling of the Wii-rival at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) last year, speculation has circulated in the gaming industry as to when it would hit the markets.

In late March, VG247 predicted an October release based on information briefly posted on an (AMZN) page featuring a Project Natal yoga game, before that was taken down, and on a Game 360 release document.

More Trouble for Nintendo

For Nintendo, which received a massive lift to its bottom line from sales of its Wii console and related game titles, Microsoft's Project Natal could spell double trouble. Earlier this month, Nintendo announced its first annual drop in profits in six years, in part due to price-cutting on its Wii as the economy struggled to recover.

Microsoft, in aiming for release later this year, will likely benefit from a stronger economy and a better performance in the markets. Can you hear the cash registers, er, sleigh bells ringing?