Starting in June, Microsoft will start shipping their Xbox One console with a $399 price tag. The price drop is due to the missing motion/voice controlled peripheral, Kinect.
Prior to this, the Xbox One would only be sold with the Kinect bundled, but with the option to disconnect the device.
Though the $399 price tag (matching the PlayStation 4 price tag) does look promising, it can’t help but beg the question of why. Why now? Why right before the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) the biggest convention in all of gaming? This is not to say, however, that games will no longer have Kinect capabilities; it simply means that people without Kinect will not be able to access the features that come with the peripheral.
Much like Nintendo and the motion controlled Wii, Microsoft had banked on Kinect to be their money maker. When Kinect was first announced, Microsoft promised full-body recognition of motion. The games that followed did just that: The Just Dance series, Kinect Sports games and Kinect: Your Shape Fitness, a fitness game. Kinect, much like the Wii, promised to get users in shape by having fun. The difference here, is that the games for Xbox and Kinect turned out to be major flops.
This may be why Microsoft is dumping the Kinect for a $100 price reduction, but that shouldn't be enough to drop something that has had so much time and effort put into it.
It seems that people aren't using Kinect as much as Microsoft wanted them to. Other than telling Xbox to “Go to Netflix” or “Play Need for Speed: Rivals” people aren't using Kinect IN the actual games. Take Fifa 2014 for example. If a gamer curses in frustration while playing in the manager mode and Kinect hears it, they can get them in big trouble in the game. Players often disable the Kinect settings in the game menu to avoid this complication. But if the feature is disabled, gamers won’t be able to say “Shoot!” or “Pass it here!” for Kinect to hear, and players to respond accordingly.
So what does this mean for upcoming Xbox One games? Will Xbox One games now lack the interactive feature that was supposed to break the wall between reality and games?
Microsoft’s motto for this year’s E3 is “Xbox, Game On,” a hint that their press conference and involvement in E3 will focus more on games (for which it was severely lacking in the past few E3’s). Does the option for a Kinectless Xbox One mean that less games will take advantage of motion/voice controlled peripheral?
And what about the features Kinect offers outside of the games?
People who haven’t touched the capacitive button on their Xbox One’s yet either, turn the console on from their controller or their voice saying “Xbox, On.” Gamers who purchase the $399 Xbox One without Kinect will lose out on these simple, highly responsive features. And what about game footage? Will epic titan kills in Titanfall be lost forever without the “Xbox, record that” feature? Hopefully Microsoft could take the Sony route and somehow work in a “Share” button on the controller in order for people to share their game content online.
Only time will tell as we patiently await E3 in early June where games, console features, and maybe even new consoles that companies have been working on, will be revealed.
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