With the next generation of game consoles well underway and the post-launch rose-tinted glasses wearing off, it is beginning to become clear which design decisions represent the consoles’ strengths and which represent their weaknesses. One of the biggest points of contention in the Xbox One camp is the inclusion of Kinect in all the console’s bundles. According to Microsoft though, this trend shows no signs of stopping.
For many, the Kinect is far from a disappointing piece of technology. Its voice commands work well and its use as a camera for apps such as Skype help to expand the horizons of the Xbox One as a communication hub. Despite this, privacy concerns and a lack of key functionality in the console’s current lineup hurt its status as an essential component of the console. As such, many gamers have posited that a bundle that doesn’t include Kinect but retails for a significantly reduced price could be the move that Microsoft needs to pull ahead of the PS4’s stronger sales.
According to Xbox UK’s marketing chief Harvey Eagle in a discussion with Eurogamer, “[a Kinect-less Xbox One] is not in our plans at all.” Rather, he believes that it is one of the console’s defining features and one that has been seeing a great amount of use in its current state. For this, he points to the console’s Upload Studio.
“Look at all the thousands and thousands of game clips that have been posted by gamers to Upload Studio, of their gaming highlights, captured by speaking the words ‘Xbox record that’, which has already become part of Xbox vocabulary.”
While there is no doubt that the service is a great addition to the console’s architecture and allows for a stronger community of user-created content, it is hardly the killer app that Kinect needs. In the end though, it is the games that will keep players coming back to the Xbox One and for that, Eagle points to this year’s upcoming E3 trade show.
“Obviously E3 is a key moment in time where we’ll make a bunch of announcements about what’s coming up in the months ahead of E3, and particularly for Christmas. So expect to hear much more from us at E3.”
It’s no surprise that Microsoft intends to have a strong presence at E3 in order to continue its push for the Xbox One’s success. For those worrying about the lack of gaming functionality for Kinect, this could stand as very good news, especially when content is being promised in time for Christmas.
On the other hand though, Microsoft still has a lot of work cut out for them if they hope to convert the masses and prove that Kinect can holds its own against conventional controllers and the newly-announced Xbox One Media Remote as an input device. It will definitely be interesting to see how Microsoft handles the unveiling of Kinect’s next phase come June.
Do you think Kinect will ever be able to hold a candle to conventional controllers as a mode of input in games? Is it just about time that Microsoft offered an option to gamers who don’t want to pay the extra money for a Kinect with their console?
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ThatRyanB.