Microsoft has today announced the wired headset that was initially packaged alongside the Xbox One will no longer come with the console. The chatting device, which Microsoft recently said is essential to the online experience, will now be sold separately.

Historically, most of the Xbox 360 SKUs have included some type of headset for online chatting. They may have been cheaply made, but they got the job done.

When asked why they decided to pull the wired headset from Xbox One boxes, Microsoft’s official statement pointed to the new Kinect sensor as the only microphone gamers will need. That is, if they also want to broadcast their game audio and any other ancillary room noises over the Internet.

“Xbox One does not include a pack-in headset accessory. Each Xbox One includes the new Kinect sensor, with a highly sensitive multi-array microphones designed to enable voice inputs and chat as a system-level capability, both in-game and with Skype and other experiences.”

Sure, the Kinect functions admirably as a microphone when gamers need to switch between apps or pull up a movie on Netflix, but as a dedicated chatting device it leaves a lot to be desired. Nothing replaces a good old-fashioned headset.

What makes this news all the more troubling is the fact that Microsoft has created a new proprietary headset port for the Xbox One controller, meaning legacy headsets will not function with Xbox One hardware. So even if you already have an Xbox headset, you don’t have one that will work with Microsoft’s new console.

Coincidentally, this announcement comes a week after Microsoft announced they were reversing their position on used games and digital sharing. Now we’re not one for conspiracy theories, but if we were, we might draw a connection between the two announcements. It does seem strange that Microsoft would pull a previously included piece of hardware for no apparent reason.

However, if giving the headset the boot means Microsoft is trying to bring the price of the Xbox One (current retail price $499) down, then we’re all for it. One of the key advantages Sony has heading into this next generation is a cheaper price point — one that economist Rafi Mohammed says gives them a strategic advantage. But if Microsoft can level the playing field, even if it means losing a wired headset, we’d imagine they will take it.

How do you feel about Microsoft selling the wired headset separately? Would you use Kinect for game chat?

The Xbox One launches this November.

Source: Ars Technica