Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: in light of recent gamer reaction Microsoft has decided to reverse its policy on a much-maligned and borderline intrusive feature for the Xbox One. They did it with used games and Internet connectivity, and now, as we have just learned, they are doing it with Kinect.
According to Microsoft’s Marc Whitten, the Xbox One will no longer require Kinect to function…at all. Gamers will be able to completely disconnect Kinect from their Xbox One console, and the device will function as advertised.
This, of course, is much different than the stipulation we learned about back when the Xbox One was first unveiled. Back then, Microsoft revealed that the Kinect had to be connected to the Xbox One console at all times, regardless of if it was in use. As we later learned, gamers could turn the Kinect completely off, but the motion sensor still needed to be connected.
However, as Whitten tells IGN in a short Q&A session, the “console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.” In other words, if you don’t find any of the Kinect’s new functionality for Xbox One particularly useful, you don’t need it.
It’s rather strange that Whitten, and by extension Microsoft, would choose to announce this Kinect policy reversal so unceremoniously, but it’s not entirely surprising. For more than a month now, Microsoft has slowly been changing their Xbox One policies, but they have been doing so in the subtlest ways possible. For example, they revealed the Xbox One would ship with a chat headset through an unboxing video, as if they were sliding the announcement under their breath.
It’s important to point out, though, that the Kinect is still part of the Xbox One retail package. That part of the equation has not changed. And neither has the $499 price tag for that matter.
But, if Kinect is no longer a requirement, who’s to say that a Microsoft isn’t hard at work on an Xbox One SKU that’s $100 cheaper and ships without the Kinect? Not counting console specific features and games, the price tag is now the only major disparity between the Xbox One and the PS4.
Several months ago we might have told you there was no chance Microsoft would go back on their commitment to Kinect, but that was before they reversed their policy on used games, headsets, self-publishing, and Internet connectivity. Apparently, any and every policy is up for grabs if it will potentially help sales.
Do you think it was a smart move by Microsoft to change their Kinect requirement? Does it hurt the potential for motion controls?
The Xbox One is targeting a November release date.