Xbox One WITHOUT Kinect: Hail Mary or Master Stroke?

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We all knew it was coming. Even when we were told, emphatically, that it wasn’t. Microsoft have finally completed the full house of U-turns by announcing that the Xbox One WILL be sold, as of June 9th, without the Kinect 2.0 sensor bar.

The original concept for the Xbox One was an all in one media hub that was voice controlled, always online and would not allow users to play second hand games. Understandably, these policies and design ideals were swiftly called into question by the general public. Swiftly and loudly.

The general level of uproar was met with steadfast refusal at first, with one notable tweet from a (now ex) microsoft employee basically telling us that ‘always online’ was the future and that we should all just ‘get used to it.’

The future it may well be, but it was certainly not going to be the present as after heavy criticism, the decision to have an always online requirement for the machine was reversed. So too was the policy on second hand games, giving the high street retailers a stay of execution (though digital downloads may yet see them off).

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That left the Kinect 2.0 sensor, the chief reason for the dramatic price difference between the Xbox One and the rival PS4, as the last bastion against the consumer demands. It wasn’t that the customers didn’t want the Kinect sensor, they merely wanted the chance to ‘opt in’ rather than be forced to buy it. Sony had reportedly dropped their Playstation Eye camera from their console bundle as a way to offer customers the freedom of choice (and undercut the price of the Xbox One by a considerable margin), but Microsoft held strong.

We were originally told that Kinect was so integral to the Xbox One experience that the machine wouldn’t work without it. That design ideal was also changed so that the machine could be controlled without it – but they still insisted on packaging it with the console, stubbornly dictating to the consumers what they had to buy and use.

Fast-forward seven months, the Xbox One has sold incredibly well – but isn’t keeping pace with the PS4. Microsoft had to do something. Thus, they have finally relented. Kinect is gone, the price is coming down to be on par with PS4 at £349 / $400.

PS4 vs Xbox One competition back on?

What happens next is anyone’s guess. On one hand, this move further underlines the fact that Microsoft doesn’t have the courage of its own conviction, they haven’t stuck to their vision and the big Xbox One plan seems a little directionless right now.

On the other hand, a comparable price point, a machine with the gimmicks removed and a focus put back on games, a return to stronger support of independent developers – Microsoft may be taking pages from the PS4 playbook, but they are a strong E3 showing away from being straight back in contention.

We’ve long been in support of the two horse race, if Xbox One can drop a few surprises on us during next month’s E3 conference, we’ll hopefully be looking at exactly that. Our guess is Microsoft has something BIG up their sleeves. After all, dropping the Kinect AND the price of the Xbox One – one day before the biggest games conference of the year can’t be a coincidence, can it?

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