xbox one11 -

Microsoft's latest in a series of Xbox One U-Turns could end up being the biggest mistake it has made so far.

Overnight, Microsoft revealed that the Xbox One will function just fine even if the new Kinect is unplugged from the console, a dramatic change of policy from the always-connected console announced earlier this year.

"When we first announced Xbox One, we did intend for Kinect to be plugged in for the console to work," a statement from Microsoft reads. "As we've progressed in the development cycle we've revised our approach so that the console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in. Xbox One is still designed to work best with Kinect plugged in."

Initially, the reversal sounds like a good move. After all, much of the Xbox One criticism has centred on the need for Kinect – a device core gamers often view as an abomination to the hobby they love so much. However, Microsoft has now backed itself into a particularly grim corner and has nowhere to go.

As it stands, the Xbox One will launch in November priced £429 - which includes the next generation Kinect. But now that we know the device isn't required, why should consumers be made to pay for it if they don't want it?

Of course, Microsoft could counter this by offering a new SKU without Kinect, cutting the cost to somewhere in the region of the £349 PS4, and a swift announcement at Gamescom seems possible.

But the problem is that neither option can provide Microsoft with the win it so badly needs. Stick with its guns at £429 and it runs the risk of further annoying the core market by forcing them to cough up a large sum of money for something they don't really want. It's no surprise to hear that the PS4 is pre-ordering so strongly given its clear focus on core gamers.

But if it was to drop Kinect to form a new SKU, Microsoft would be as good as killing Kinect's chances of being fully-integrated into the Xbox One experience going forward. Why would – and why should - developers make use of a peripheral which isn't guaranteed to be in homes?

Then there's the huge investment Microsoft has made in developing the next-gen Kinect, which could turn out to be a colossal waste of money if it isn't sold with all consoles.

Last month an anonymous (but verified) Xbox One developer revealed that the next-gen Kinect cost as much to develop as the Xbox One itself.

"The majority of the masses care only about the console," wrote the developer. "Except that the success of the Kinect carries much more weight to us. The sensor costs almost as much as the console to make."

Demoting Kinect to an optional accessory would give the device little chance of warranting its development cost, especially given that Microsoft could have used this money to improve on the core console – perhaps bringing its processing and graphical capabilities in-line with, or ahead of, the PS4.

The anonymous dev also noted that enabling the Xbox One to function with Kinect unplugged would "undermine our guarantee to game developers". Dropping Kinect could cause all manner of headaches for Microsoft, putting stress on its relationships with publishers who have invested large sums to develop for Kinect on the promise the device would be a requirement.

I really don't know what Microsoft will do next, but given the platform holder's apparent slapdash approach to policy changes it wouldn't be too surprising to see even more twists and turns in the run up to the console's November launch.

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User Comments

DonaldWoodsmith's Avatar


I concur about their miss configurations..What are the major alternatives for it?
Posted 11:38 on 19 August 2013
BrainFromArous's Avatar


MS still does not understand the principal problem with the Kinect: most gamers simply do not want or care to use the damned thing.

Most of us just aren't interested. We don't want to stand up, move about or wave our arms like the guys on airport runways guiding the planes around. Hand controllers work just fine.

Even were there NO privacy concerns, the sensors worked perfectly and the unit only added $20 to the cost of an Xbone... most of us just don't want it. Period.
Posted 05:20 on 15 August 2013

BrySkye@ Attimus

My reasoning, look at Kinect today which is in over 25 million homes worldwide yet can you name one Kinect must-have title.

Not exactly from a lack of trying though, and that's the important thing.
Kinect simply wasn't precise or practical enough to offer an in-depth experience for the core gamers and it was too expensive for the casuals (as well as the Xbox 360 just being a more complex and intimidating system. Kinect wasn't exactly plug and play)

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor was a very genuine attempt to make a unique and hardcore Kinect experience and yet the device rendered it practically unplayable. It simply lacked the precision in a real-world scenario to make great games.

I'll maintain that many developers avoided Kinect for this reason.
Those that tried generally suffered a knock to their reputation and we got things like Kinect Star Wars.

If Kinect 2 is drastically better and works really well, then I'm sure developers will be happy to use it and the device will start to justify itself.

But if it doesn't, let's not waste any more time and money on it until the concept really does deliver.
Posted 10:45 on 14 August 2013
wind79's Avatar


I have a better solution for Microsoft, its called a cover. Just cover the camera with a flip cover and MS can still keep the Kinect always on requirement and at the same time don't compromise on privacy concerns. User just have to flip the cover whenever they want to use the camera.
Posted 09:03 on 14 August 2013
dirkradke's Avatar


There were 2 core issues I think Microsoft addressed in deciding whether the X-Box One would work without KINECT. The first was legitimate privacy concerns from people that were vocal enough that Microsoft was already taking seriously. The second issue was sensor placement. It might not be sitting safe on a shelf because of needing to position the sensor more or less in front of the player(s). Combined with it becoming broken in a fall, failure of tech, etc. This would be much higher. Now imagine having a X-Box one that you couldn't use because that sensor was broke. Have all this fancy stuff and it's useless because of a broken sensor. The public outcry would be enormous and I think even pale in comparison to the former used games policy. During the first year I think Microsoft needs to keep the sensor as part of any SKU then offer a cheaper SKU without. Enough core people would have the sensor at that point it might make sense.
Posted 22:29 on 13 August 2013
AdesteFideles's Avatar


As much as I had no use for Kinect myself, I'm quite intrigued with the possibilities it offers now that devs can guarantee there's one plugged into every XBox 1.

Being able to unplug it is fine, but removing it altogether would be a major mistake.
Posted 17:45 on 13 August 2013
Attimus's Avatar

Attimus@ timbob

@ timbob -

For someone who is buying the Xbox One regardless this announcement is a good thing b/c it gives them the peace of mind that if by happenstance their Kinect 2.0 device brakes down, their Xbox One would still operate.

On the flipside, now that the Kinect device does not have to be connected the Xbox One for it to operate, yet I still have to buy the device with it, making it $100 more than the competition - the mass majority of the casual market will with out a doubt buy the PS4.

Oddly enough it makes more sense to offer the Xbox One for $499 with Kinect as a mandatory device. If you ask most gamers and even yourself, a $399 Xbox One is much more attractive than a $499 Xbox One bundled with Kinect which is now not needed.

This is why the PS4 pre-orders are out-positioning the Xbox One almost 3 to 1, some cases 4 to 1.
Posted 17:38 on 13 August 2013
Attimus's Avatar


This article hits the bull right between the eyes...and as BombaLuigi points out, while I believe it is good for Microsoft to be making the changes they are making, unfortunately these changes only streamline the Xbox One to reflect more of what the PS4 already is.

This announcement only makes the $499 price point seem as though the consumer is being force the Kinect device despite it not being needed for the system to operate. The article also brings up a great a point shedding light on the importance of the Kinect 2.0 device or lack thereof. One of the advantages of the $499 price point was the idea of the Kinect 2.0 potential as it wouldn't be fragmented with the console, giving the development community a clear cut direction.

A Kinect-less Xbox One SKU would only destroy all hope of a unique Kinect 2.0 experience. My reasoning, look at Kinect today which is in over 25 million homes worldwide yet can you name one Kinect must-have title.

With this new move it seems Microsoft will be doing another 180 with the addition of another Xbox One SKU to be better positioned against the PS4 for the holidays. Ultimately the Xbox One is becoming an altogether different system as advertised @ E3 in June. This isn't a bad thing, but at $499, the system is going to get punished by the PS4 at retail.
Posted 17:24 on 13 August 2013
timbob's Avatar

timbob@ pblive

Exactly! Removing the kinect would be a mistake, simply giving the user more control over whether or not to use the kinect is a good thing.
Posted 15:58 on 13 August 2013


I hope they keep Kinect in the box, I want to see more interesting uses for this second gen unit.

I think they possibly could have worded this statement better, though.

Maybe Kinect isn't necessary for the Xbox One to run, but it should be considered as the preferred option, if only for turning off and on and using the media functions.
Posted 14:41 on 13 August 2013


Every step back MS is doing made the Console better and worse at the Same Time in my Opinion. Better because the Stuff like Kinect have to be plugged in is a bad Thing in my Opinion.
So backtracking on stuff like that sounds good. But its Worse too because the Console just seems to become more like the PS4. So why do I need the Xbox One then?

The Essential Problem the Xbox One has with me is that the PS4 is cheaper. And even more Important, I like the Sony Exclusives more. I didn't use my 360 for more than a Year now, because there was no Xbox Game I wanted to play. And the Big selling Points like TV and Kinect are really nothing that I want.
Posted 12:42 on 13 August 2013
timbob's Avatar


I think you have jumped on the bandwagon of MS hate and this is completely unfair. As far as I can tell they are giving the consumer the choice to use a peripheral. Everyone STILL has a kinect, developers can therefore STILL develop with the kinect in mind. I don't understand why this is a bad thing?
Posted 12:35 on 13 August 2013
FantasyMeister's Avatar


The next development will be announcing that XBox One will offer backwards compatibility with XBox 360 titles from launch. That would normally be a great thing but in this instance it'll just make me continue to wonder how they managed to get everything so wrong in the first place.

The final nail in the coffin is when they announce that they've changed the console's name to the XBox-U.
Posted 12:27 on 13 August 2013
Mintyrebel's Avatar

Mintyrebel@ rico_rico

I will also never agree with Tom, luckily James wrote the article.
Posted 12:15 on 13 August 2013
rico_rico's Avatar


im not 100% with tom but ms lack the vision and confidence ok lets star if they say kinect not longer required to function with xbox then why do they wana release it in the same box
from my way of view if ms didn't focus on putting kinect in the same box we will cleary have better console( more powerfull gpu)so its to late for them to change strategy its like this is the first time ms release a console and dont know what ppls want
Posted 11:56 on 13 August 2013
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