Long, long ago, the Xbox One was accompanied by a device outfitted with microphones and cameras, and this device was a required part of the console that had to be connected for the system to function. Then, it turned out some people weren’t comfortable having a sensor array plugged into their living room theater, while others felt silly talking to their televisions. The Kinect is one of the most maligned peripherals in gaming history. Even with that, though, most of the people who own the Xbox One Kinect are still using it, says Microsoft.
“We don’t break down how many console users have Kinect and how many don’t,” said Microsoft’s Xbox marketing boss, Mike Nichols, in an interview with Polygon. “I can say that the people with Kinect still make up a very, very sizable portion and that those people do use it quite frequently.”
As you might expect, the primary uses are for sign-in and menu navigation, being that the number of new games using it has flatlined.
Those remaining users aren’t being forgotten when the system gets its big update a month from now, though the way it’s used will shift slightly. Gesture-based controls, says Nichols, weren’t being used except by a very small number of users. Integration of Cortana into the system should give Kinect users something new to play with once it rolls out, though even that will be usable through a headset mic or through text. No word yet about whether Smartglass could use the mics on phones and tablets as well, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see that feature come along.
Personally, I use my Kinect frequently with my system for switching apps and controlling media, and it’s still the best Skype camera on the market, but it’s a tough one to justify without any dedicated software to drive it. The fact that so many owners still use it is a testament to how well it works, but that it’s no longer part of the Xbox One package shows how tough a sell it was for the company.