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Chief executive officer of THQ, a leading game publisher, said during a conference call with financial analysts that he expected Microsoft Corp. to release its motion-sensing Natal device in late 2010. In addition, the executive for the game publisher predicted other hardware upgrades for current-generation video game consoles coming in the following years.

“With respect to the cycle itself, if you look at what is happening in the industry, the fact that we have, for example, Natal from Microsoft, a platform addition, coming late next year. […] We do not think Microsoft is going to be alone in introducing either peripherals, or new devices, to keep the current hardware fresh for at least the next three to five years,” said Brian Farrell, chief executive and president of THQ.

Project Natal is a motion-sensing device for the Xbox 360 video game console that does not require any additional controllers. Project Natal sensor is the world’s first to combine an RGB camera, depth sensor, multi-array microphone and custom processor running proprietary software all in one device. Unlike 2D cameras and controllers, Project Natal tracks full body movement in 3-D, while responding to commands, directions and even a shift of emotion in voice, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft hopes that Natal will attract new gamers to the Xbox 360 platform. Still, the company admits that it will take quite some time before game developers start to take advantage of the motion-sensing device.

Back in June Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of the software giant, said that Natal will be available in 2010. Considering the comment by the executive of THQ, it looks like Natal will be available in late 2010 and it may be assumed that Microsoft has given its game development partner a guidance regarding release schedule of the Natal.

Mr. Farrell also said that he would expect price-cuts on video game systems this year.

“We did anticipate price cuts coming this fall. Obviously, we will let the hardware guys announce both the magnitude and the timing, but again, just look at the hardware numbers and it would seem that a price-cut would be in order by at least two of the three manufacturers,” said the head of THQ.

For the fiscal first quarter ended June 30, 2009, THQ’s net sales climbed 77% to $243.5 million from $137.6 million in the prior year. On a non-GAAP basis, for the three months ended June 30, 2009, the company reported net sales of $233.9 million, up 93% from $121.1 million a year ago. For the three months ended June 30, 2009, the company reported net income of $6.4 million, or $0.09 per share, compared with a net loss of $27.2 million, or $0.41 per share, in the prior year. On a non-GAAP basis, for the three months ended June 30, 2009, the company reported net income of $6.9 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, compared with a non-GAAP net loss of $25.4 million, or $0.38 per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Tags: Microsoft, Natal, Xbox, THQ

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