Microsoft today announced plans to sell a version of its Xbox One console without Kinect. It will be sold for $399 from June 9 in all markets where the console is currently available. The company described the Kinect-free Xbox One as “a new option,” which means the original bundle with the high-resolution camera will continue to be sold around the world.
The Kinect is a high-resolution camera that can track the position of your body and identify voice commands. The original version was an optional peripheal for the Xbox 360, but the updated model was bundled with every Xbox One.
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“Since the beginning, we have focused on delivering great games and entertainment experiences for you,” Phil Spencer, the new Head of Xbox said in a blog post. “Your feedback matters to us and it shapes the products and services we build. Your feedback showed up in the Xbox One console we launched back in November and in the monthly updates we’ve delivered since.”
The move is an admission that Microsoft could have sold more Xbox One consoles before now, had it come without the Kinect camera. The peripheral was a core reason why the system initially cost $100 more than the PlayStation 4, which is currently besting the Xbox One in global sales.
Most of the Kinect’s functionality has been focused on navigating the console’s core UI with voice commands and simple gestures. It played into the company’s pitch of a system for all types of media, including live television and streaming. Members of the gaming community criticized Microsoft, however, for failing to incorporate the peripheral in “core” games. Although it was used in titles such as Zoo Tycoon and Dead Rising 3, the motion controls and voice commands never felt like a unique or revolutionary gameplay experience.
Microsoft said Kinect remains “an important part” of its vision for Xbox One, but it’s clear the peripheral will be downplayed in the future. “We will continue to offer a premium Xbox One with Kinect bundle to deliver voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalization, instant scanning of QR codes, and enhanced features only available with Kinect in games such as Kinect Sports Rivals, Just Dance 2014, Project Spark and more,” Spencer added.
To bridge the two models, Microsoft will also sell a standalone Kinect sensor for Xbox One later this year. A firm release date and price is yet to be confirmed.
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