We’ve already spoken at length about our thoughts on the Xbox One finally making the Kinect an option instead of a mandatory and expensive piece of tech that few are interested in. But the decision to cut that hardware out of the console wasn’t made lightly, as Xbox head Phil Spencer recently explained.
“We have spent thousands of hours in engineering to make sure voice, gestures, and even IR for TV work great, but when a consumer walks in the store—$399 is a point we hear from consumers that they want Xbox at,” Spencer said to Ars Technica. “I wanted to make sure players were heard.”
This of course, all ties in back to another one of the Xbox One 180s, where constant Kinect vigilance was switched off. From the moment that Spencer joined Xbox as the big cheese however, he knew that it was time to uncouple the hardware. “When we made that decision last summer, engineering work had to go into the platform to make sure the box would run without Kinect plugged in, and that was an enabler for this decision,” Spencer said.
It’s been five weeks since I was made head of Xbox, and at that time, Yusuf Medhi and I—we’re running the program together as partners now—and we began spending a lot of time looking at the list of opportunities for us.
There have been a number of changes so far, including not needing to be an Xbox Live Gold member in order to access apps, while bringing Games for Gold to the Xbox One system. With Kinect no longer a mandatory part of the Xbox One system, gamers now get a cheaper console system. But according to Spencer, Microsoft is still looking to make Kinect a more attractive addition to the console, as well as a better piece of hardware.
“We want to continue to increase the sensor’s accuracy, along with an expansion of international voice modeling and the robustness of skeleton tracking and gesture control,” Spencer explained.
That’s something we’re working on with developers who are focusing on gesture games because that can always get better.
As for bundles, don’t count the Xbox One out yet. The Xbox 360 has market version that includes the Kinect, and the Xbox One will most likely have one, just in time for the silly season. But until then, Spencer reiterated that gamers now have the most important option available to them now: Choice.
“This decision in the long run will give more people a Kinect sensor,” Spencer said. “Now, people can join Xbox One sooner and add Kinect at a later time.”
Last Updated: May 15, 2014