Known for being somewhat of a fire starter with the bizarre and incendiary comments about the games industry and bold, and sometimes unfulfilled promises about his own games, Peter Molyneux certainly isn’t shy when it comes to basking in the limelight, with the video game designer even being regarded as the ‘go to guy’ for pull quotes (quotes that journalists pull from an interview to serve as the headline) due to how forthright he is. However, when it comes to Kinect 2.0, the Xbox One camera add-on that is regarded as the reason for the console’s high price, Molyneux’s stance on the hardware is not just unexpected but controversial too.
Offering the insight in a new feature from Edge on the state of the Xbox console division, Molyneux tells the magazine that he wishes that “Kinect wasn’t a requirement” as it “feels like an unnecessary add-on.” This criticism of a feature that Microsoft is pioneering so forcefully may come as a surprise to many people due to the fact that much of Molyneux’s work has taken place at Microsoft, both as a producer Lionhead Studios (the Fable creating studio who was purchased by Microsoft in 2006) and as the Creative Director of Microsoft Game Studios, Europe, two positions that he left in 2012.
However despite going against the bias that he would be expected to have for his previous employer, Molyneux’s opinion is grounded in logic, explaining that,
“Maybe it’s because we’re in England, and it doesn’t really use the TV stuff, but it feels more and more like a joke. My son and I sit there saying random things at it, and it doesn’t work.”
This is statement echoed by the fact that the ‘control your TV with Xbox One’ feature was hindered in the UK due to the difference in North American and UK upscaling techniques which reportedly led to poor framerates and screen tearing when tried out en-masse by British consumers. The use of Kinect may also be a concern for the UK sales team of the console as it is currently being outpaced by the PS4 in the region due to strong brand loyalty as well as its lower price.
Meanwhile, Phil Spencer, the newly appointed Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Studios, justified Kinect’s mandatory status by telling Edge that,
“There are a number of games on the ID@Xbox programme that use Kinect, and you’ll see more games in the fall. We’re always trying to match what consumers are asking for, I always want to make sure that we’re in tune with what current or potential customers are asking for from us. Right now, [dropping Kinect is] not the number one request from people. Usually it’s, ‘Where are the great games?’”
Despite the words from Spencer, many have (and will still) continue to demand that Microsoft nix Kinect by offering a non-Kinect Xbox One bundle at least, an offering which would be beneficial to Microsoft given that it could maximise its chances of getting Xbox Ones into homes and it would also lower the production costs for the console. Molyneux even adds that,
“They could cost-reduce it [by removing Kinect]. I’m sure they’re going to release an Xbox One without Kinect. It would be unthinkable that they wouldn’t.”
leading some to suggest that the former Microsoft-man has insider knowledge but as Spencer and Phil Harrison (the Corporate Vice President at Microsoft) are adamant that the hardware bundle is here to stay, Molyneux’s words are perhaps more hopeful than realistic.