Xbox One Doesn’t Need a Kinect Connected to Work
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Microsoft is playing the PR long game with the Xbox One. After getting everyone mad at them when announcing the Xbox One, they’re going back on the “features” that gamers didn’t like and are turning the tide of the PR war by reverting to the status quo.
In a Q&A session, Microsoft’s Chief Xbox One Platform Architect, Marc Whitten, revealed that the Xbox One would still be able to function whether or not the Kinect was broken or plugged in.
When asked by an IGN reader if the Xbox One would still work if the Kinect had somehow broken, Whitten responded by saying:
Xbox One is designed to work with Kinect plugged in. It makes gaming better in many ways – from the ability to say “Xbox On” and get right to your personalized homescreen, to the ability to control your TV through voice, Smartglass and more. Kinect allows you to search for your content, instantly move between games and your personalized dash and more with just your voice. Kinect helps you pick up and play by automatically knowing which controller you have in your hands. No more need to interrupt your friends game or navigate through multiple UI screens to sign in and tell the system which controller you are holding. It will even bind the controller to the console if its currently unbound – no searching for special buttons! Of course – these are just a few of the system wide benefits of having Kinect. Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, 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.
The tl;dr version of Whitten’s answer is that the Kinect is the greatest peripheral in the history of gaming (he works for Microsoft so I don’t fault him for trying to sell you on the Kinect) but your console will still work whether your Kinect is non-functional or unplugged.
This change in Xbox One functionality comes after months of Xbox One management telling us that we needed the Kinect to be plugged in and powered in order to operate the system. Of course, a couple of months back, Microsoft said that we could effectively turn the Kinect off from a system settings menu on the Xbox One.
While this takes care of the understandable privacy concerns involving the Kinect since Microsoft was the first company to sign up to give your data to the NSA through their PRISM program, it doesn’t help the Xbox One compete on price. The Xbox One still costs $100 more than the PlayStation 4 (or 25% more for those preferring a percentage-based comparison) because of a peripheral that many gamers don’t want and won’t voluntarily use that is now no longer necessary to make the system actually work. How many Xbox One unboxing videos will also feature a Kinect reboxing? And how long until Francis takes his trusty hammer to the Kinect 2.0?
I tend to think of the repeated Xbox One-80s as Microsoft listening to their user base and focus groups, ignoring them, doing their own thing, finding out that everyone hates it and is threatening not to buy the Xbox One and reversing policies so as not to lose money in the next console generation. The sad thing is that somehow, some way this plan is working.
Author’s Note: No, the promotion of Home Gold doesn’t count as news or a policy reversal. Microsoft told us ages ago that everyone could play online as long as someone using that console had Gold. It’s not news. It’s the PR folks doing their job well.
Posted on August 14, 2013, in Games and tagged Kinect, Microsoft, NSA, Xbox One. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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