In yet another reversal of policy regarding the Xbox One, Microsoft has announced that you will not need the Kinect plugged into the Xbox One for it to function.
In a Ask Microsoft Anything session with IGN today, Marc Whitten, Chief Xbox One Platform Architect, was asked the question of what happens should anything happen to your Kinect. Microsoft has emphasized how important the controller is to the new console, and had said on multiple occasions that the console would not function without it. It appears that policy has now changed with the answer to a question. (Emphasis added.
Since Kinect must be plugged in for the Xbox One to function, what happens if your Kinect breaks? Like if it falls off the top of your TV onto a hardwood floor or something? Will the console cease to function?
WHITTEN: Xbox One is designed to work with Kinect plugged in. It makes gaming better in many ways – from the ability to say “Xbox On” and get right to your personalized homescreen, to the ability to control your TV through voice, Smartglass and more. Kinect allows you to search for your content, instantly move between games and your personalized dash and more with just your voice. Kinect helps you pick up and play by automatically knowing which controller you have in your hands. No more need to interrupt your friends game or navigate through multiple UI screens to sign in and tell the system which controller you are holding. It will even bind the controller to the console if its currently unbound – no searching for special buttons! Of course – these are just a few of the system wide benefits of having Kinect. Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.
Later in the day Albert Penello, Microsoft’s senior director of product planning was answering similar questions on NeoGAF, and also stated that the Kinect would not be required any longer for a number of reasons. Speaking specifically to privacy questions that have arisen around a device in your home that has microphones and a camera, Penello said, “The thing we all understood, and hence this change, is that there are some scenarios where people just may not be comfortable.” He did say that there are a number of privacy settings users can control, but added, “We wanted people to be 100 percent comfortable, so we allow the sensor to be unplugged.” He also took a moment to address the earlier question from IGN, saying, “And clearly the ‘it dropped’ scenario is possible.”
And with the removal of the Kinect being required, pretty much every scenario that angered the gaming community at the time the Xbox One was announced has come to an end.
While no mention was made in either of these Q&A sessions, one has to wonder if there is the possibility of a new Xbox One bundle coming without the Kinect. The last remaining argument gamers have had against the Xbox One was that it cost $100 more than the PlayStation 4 due to the Kinect. It was believed this was a must have item at the time, but now that it isn’t does that mean Microsoft could be cooking up a new bundle without the sensor which would allow Microsoft to match the price set by Sony.
Again, nothing has been announced yet about a cheaper bundle, but don’t be surprised if we hear about one being announced in the very near future.