Microsoft unshackles XBox One from Kinect. Not Everyone is thrilled about it.

Microsoft is unbundling the Kinect, offering a cheaper XBox One in June.

If you listen to the Mashcast you have heard me say over and over (and over and over and over) again that Microsoft needs to un-bundle the Kinect if they want to compete with Sony.  Further proof that Microsoft listens to the Mashcast is that they have recently announced that they will be selling a Kinect-less version of the XBox One starting June 9 across all regions.  Dropping the Kinect allows the XBox One to be sold at $399, right along side the PS4.  There is no doubt that Microsoft has been feeling pressure from the laps PS4 has been running around the XBox One in terms of sales.  This is particularly more impressive since it’s still pretty difficult to get a PS4 versus the overstock I see in many stores of XBox Ones.

While Microsoft certainly isn’t giving up the Kinect, this move would lead one to think that they are not looking to push it as hard as they did before.  Phil Spencer would like you to think otherwise:

“To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision.”

“Many of you are using Kinect for Xbox One every day. In fact, more than 80 percent of you are actively using Kinect, with an average of 120 voice commands per month on each console. Some of the most popular voice commands include ‘Xbox On,’ ‘Xbox Broadcast’ and ‘Xbox Record That.’ We will continue to offer a premium Xbox One with Kinect bundle to deliver voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalization, instant scanning of QR codes, and enhanced features only available with Kinect in games such as Kinect Sports Rivals, Just Dance 2014, Project Spark and more.”

“If you buy Xbox One for $399 and later decide you want to have all the experiences Kinect enables, we will also offer a standalone sensor for Xbox One later this fall. We’ll share more details about the standalone Kinect for Xbox One in the coming months.”

Reactions to Microsoft’s news has been mixed.  Some say this is a good thing and that Microsoft is finally listening to gamers, some say Microsoft is pushing the Kinect into obscurity, while other are saying Microsoft should have just bit the bullet and lowered the price of the original XBox One bundle to $400 to compete with Sony.  Initial reactions from Harmonics employees show that they may not be so pleased with this news:

Oh, great. Super great.

– johntdrake (@johntdrake) May 13, 2014

Oh, good.

– Nick Chester (@nickchester) May 13, 2014

I’m sensing some sarcasm here.  Microsoft’s decision to pair a Kinect with every XBox One was definitely fueled by the desire to have more developers feel that developing for the device was worth their time.  The Kinect wouldn’t have a separate user base — it would theoretically be all XBox One users.  Developers that believed Microsoft would hold strong on the bundled Kinect issue are probably feeling a bit slighted right now.  Those development dollars they’ve spent on their games with Kinect functionality may not get the return they were looking for.

Anyway you look at this, I believe it will have a positive affect on XBox One sales, and may even impact PS4 sales a bit.  Sony has already said the PS4 supply will be limited until after E3 2014, but I imagine they mean PS4’s will be easier to find starting in July or August… Maybe.  Now that the XBox One will be the same price as the PS4, the lack of PS4s on shelves may sway consumers to just pick up an XBox One instead since they are the same price.  This will be especially true during the Holiday season.  Not only does Sony need to make sure they pick up the PS4 production soon, they need to make sure that they are able to keep up with XBox One supply during the holiday season or they will miss out big time.

With the exception of Sony and Kinect devs, this news is good news for everyone.  A more affordable console that removes a mostly unwanted piece of hardware is good for gamers and gaming in general.  Only time will tell how well this move will work, but I don’t think we will be waiting very long to see the effects.


Jarret Redding
Jarret Redding
Jarret Redding

Executive Director

Jarret is Executive Director as well as one of the founding members of Mash Those Buttons. He plays all types of games, but tends to lean more toward FPS, Stealth, and Combat games.

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