Microsoft has announced the price and release date for the standalone Kinect 2.0 for Xbox One.
Editorial: Xbox One Must Drop Its Price, Xbox One Can’t Drop Its Price
Is anybody surprised at the latest news that the Xbox One will not require a Kinect to function? At this point, I don’t think I would be surprised by any policy change from them, and at first glance this may seem like another drop in the bucket, albeit a fairly important one. The Kinect was a sticking point for many, and some people, including a couple of our own writers here, thought that it might be a good idea to make the Kinect optional instead of mandatory. Seeing as how Microsoft has done just that, the next big change seems obvious to me: drop the price.
The Kinect is, technically speaking, a very impressive piece of hardware. The lack of software support for it has been disheartening, but when utilized properly, it can do some amazing things. However, the same technology that enables those awesome features doesn’t come cheap. In an “Ask Me Almost Anything” session on Reddit, one anonymous Xbox One dev claimed that the price of the Kinect is “almost as much” as the system itself.
In lieu of that and this new information, people that have no interest in the Kinect won’t want to essentially pay double for something they won’t use, although it’s foolish to think Microsoft would halve the price of the console. But removing the Kinect and slashing $100 is feasible. If they really wanted to stage a coup, imagine if they dropped it by $150. Suddenly, E3 seems like it was a long time ago. My main console is an Xbox 360, but I felt like I was completely swayed by Sony. There was nothing Microsoft could do to change my mind. While personally I’m still getting a PS4, this is no longer a one-horse race, if it ever was, and a price drop could really be a game changer.
Of course, while Microsoft has said that the Kinect won’t be required to be plugged in, they did say that “you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.” Besides the obvious use of its camera and mic, what other features could explicitly use Kinect. That is an important question, especially if a Kinect-less, cheaper version of the Xbox One does come to fruition.
One interesting note to end on. If this does happen, how far will it go to devalue the Kinect even furthur? On the same Reddit page mentioned above, the dev responds to the logic of requiring the Kinect:
“The goal with having a Kinect ship with every Xbox is to guarantee to game developers if they implement Kinect features into their games, everyone who has an Xbox will be able to experience it. The number of features on the Xbox One that uses the Kinect is almost too many to count. I can’t imagine using the console without it. To me, I see two ways to deal with this:
1) Not require the Kinect to be always plugged in and have all these features turned off by default.
2) Enable these features by default and turn them off if people choose to turn off the Kinect.
The first choice would undermine our guarantee to game developers.”
Yikes, doesn’t sound so promising now. If that information is true, a Kinect-less model seems unlikely, but they have already undermined that guarantee, in a way, by removing the mandatory policy. It’s not entirely out of the question that this move could come back to haunt Microsoft, but by opening this door, I think they have shoehorned themselves into some very difficult decisions in the near future.
Any thoughts on the matter? Does Microsoft have to release a Kinect-free model now, or do you think they will stay the course (on this issue at least)? We welcome your thoughts.