The Xbox One feature set has changed drastically over the last few months. After being publicly called out by Sony at E3 for its DRM and digital policies, Microsoft has begun to strip back some of the more controversial policies with the console. This has slowly won back some of Microsoft’s critics and the console seems to be held in a higher regard compared was when it was first announced.
There is however, still one sticking point. The Xbox One comes bundled with a Kinect 2.0, leaving some gamers who have no interest in motion controls, at odds with the console. Some speculated that since the console was confirmed to now function without the Kinect always being on, a Kinectless bundle could hit store shelves at a more affordable price. Those speculators are going to be disappointed.
Talking to CVG, Microsoft executive Phil Harrison pointed out that the Kinect is an essential part of the console.
“Xbox One is Kinect. They are not separate systems. An Xbox One has chips, it has memory, it has Blu-ray, it has Kinect, it has a controller. These are all part of the platform ecosystem.”
This reiterates Microsoft’s commitment to the Kinect, not seeing it as an add-on, but instead as an integral a part of the system like the Blu-ray player or the controller. To help illustrate the point, Microsoft sees motion control as part of the console’s infrastructure, something that would be impossible to strip away, much in the same way the Wii couldn’t function without its own motion controls.
There is merit in this kind of implication. With the Kinect a part of every console, this allows developers to design essential game mechanics with the Kinect in mind. If your entire consumer base has access to voice and motion controls, a designer is free to make it a key part of their gameplay, not worrying if a portion of players will be unable to use core mechanics tied to the Kinect. Ideally, this will lead to exciting new uses for motion controls in the future and more innovation.
On the other hand though, it is true that giving a consumer base a wide selection of choice when buying a product will open their options and give them more entry points to invest in a product. It is also no secret that the Xbox One’s price is being pushed up by the Kinect inclusion with the console. The $500 price tag is a significant barrier to entry, especially when the PlayStation 4 comes in at $399.
Do you think Microsoft is right to hold onto the Kinect? If the Xbox One came without a Kinect and a price cut, would you buy one? Do you think the motion and/or voice controls will ever become a normalcy in games?
Follow Patrick on Twitter at @PatrickDane