Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of of Xbox, revealed in an interview his plans for a new, cheaper Xbox One without the popular motion control add-on Kinect. Spencer only joined the Xbox team five weeks ago and today’s sudden announcement, according to Spencer and his team, was an effort to get the product in front of consumers as quickly as possible. On June 9, Xbox One systems sans Kinect sensors will be available in retail outlets for $399: a drop of $100 from the product’s current price (pre-orders of the item have already been made available at Best Buy and Amazon). When asked how much -percentage wise- effort the company will put into producing systems without the Kinect, Spencer simply stated that Microsoft is just trying to produce as many of each console as they can, and that overtime efforts will be designated to whichever option consumers respond to the most.
The announcement of the plans for a Kinect-less, cheaper Xbox One came as a shock to the tech community due to Microsoft consistently illustrating that the Kinect is essential to the console. Spencer addressed this by stating consumer satisfaction is a higher priority. He cited that the number one concern he gets from consumers who are evaluating which gaming system to buy is price. When the Xbox One originally was announced, it required a constant Kinect connection to function normally, much to the chagrin of potential buyers. However they made the decision, after acknowledging the complaints from the public, to remove this technical obligation. Spencer stated that it was this decision made years ago that provided him the inspiration for his.
The plans for a cheaper Xbox One without Kinect would make the system as affordable as its Sony competitor the PlayStation 4, which has been outselling Microsoft’s console since both of their inceptions. According to recent reports, the PS4 has sold more units than Xbox One has shipped to retailers. Spencer also announced that it would allow Xbox Live members who are not paying for a ‘Gold’ subscription to access entertainment apps like Twitch and Netflix.
Game developers have provided their opinion on the announcement of Microsoft’s plans to distribute cheaper Xbox Ones without Kinect. Mika Mika from the development company Other Ocean (who are in the midst of developing a game for the Xbox One named #IDARB) declared that although she agrees removing the Kinect is the right decision from the company, she is “bummed” at the additional work it now creates for those who have counted on the Kinect always being present in the console. Harmonix representative James Drake -who is leading development of the Kinect dependent game Fantasia- simple wrote,”Oh great, super great,” following the news. He later provided a more detailed comment on Microsoft’s decision: stating that as a game enthusiast, he is happy that gamers have more options available, and as a developer, the decision only serves as motivation for him and his team to develop Kinect reliant games that customers will respond to. Spencer reassured that those who purchase an Xbox One without Kinect will always have the option to add it on later.
By Andres Loubriel