There are a few different compatibility issues that can come up when using a Kinect®, including concerns with both hardware and software. The Kinect® peripheral was originally developed for use with the S model of the Xbox 360™ console, but it can also be used with older models. In order to achieve Kinect® compatibility with the older consoles, an adapter cable is required. These same adapter cables, in addition to third-party drivers, can also allow the devices to be used with computers. Some games require the Kinect® in order to work, others utilize it as an optional control scheme and games that were released prior to the device are not compatible at all.
Hardware Kinect® compatibility can be determined by checking for a modified universal serial bus (USB) connector on the back. The S model Xbox 360™ consoles have this modified USB port, while older consoles do not. Since this port is capable of providing more voltage than a traditional USB connection, an adapter cable is necessary to achieve Kinect® compatibility with older consoles. The cable has a USB plug on one end, a Kinect® port on the other, and can also plug into a wall outlet to provide the necessary additional voltage.
An adapter cable is also needed to use a Kinect® with a computer. The other component that is necessary for Kinect® compatibility with computers is a driver, which is software that can allow the hardware to properly interface. It is then possible for a computer to access all of the data that a console can, including information from both cameras and the microphone array.
The other main compatibility issue with the Kinect® peripheral is software. Games designed for use with the Kinect® have clear markings on the packaging to indicate compatibility. These games typically require the peripheral and will not work without it. Other games that lack any specific indication on the package may have some level of compatibility, though that decision is left to the designers. Many games that were released after the introduction of the Kinect® use the device as an optional control method, though they are designed primarily around the use of a traditional controller.
Some games have no Kinect® compatibility at all. None of the games released prior to the Kinect® have any compatibility due to the extra cost associated with adding the functionality after the fact. Other newer games lack compatibility due to factors such as a lack of funds, interest or time on the part of developers and publishers.