When Microsoft announced Xbox One back in 2013, Kinect was an integral part of it. You won’t be able to buy Xbox One without Kinect and in fact the whole system was built around Kinect based interactions. Due to inclusion of Kinect with Xbox One, Microsoft’s console was $100 costlier than the competing Sony PS4 which lead to loss in sales. Microsoft realized this scenario and decided to drop Kinect from Xbox One system. Users can still buy Xbox One with Kinect bundle, but they can now buy Xbox One console without Kinect for $100 cheaper price which lead to increased sales in the market.
Microsoft also released several software updates since the launch to make the system work without any Kinect sensor requirement. Since Kinect is now not an integral part of Xbox One, the interest around it from the developers have also dropped considerably. Speaking to GamesRadar, Xbox Chief Phil Spencer said that Microsoft has not yet abandoned Kinect sensor and they will continue to build functionality to make it a valuable part of the ecosystem. Read his full response below.
On the topic of peripheral scenarios, where is your thinking on Kinect right now? Is it ostensibly abandoned?
It’s not abandoned. We just developed Upload Studio 2.0, which has green screening that you can do with Kinect. We’ll continue to build functionality to make it a valuable part of the ecosystem. That said, price point’s really important for the console – we saw that over the holidays in the UK and US, where we did well when we dropped the price, which was great. And I want to make sure consumers have choice on how much they value the functionality of Kinect when they buy a console. If you want to go buy a Kinect console [bundle], then they’re still available. I think it’s a great part of the ecosystem. And if you want just a console, and either add Kinect later, or Kinect’s simply not something you’re interested in, we give you that choice as well.
The teams continue to look at ways that Kinect makes the entertainment experience better. I’d say the area that hasn’t really landed – and I don’t know if it will – is, ‘Is Kinect integral to all of the core gaming scenarios on our console in terms of minute-to-minute gameplay?’ There are genres where Kinect works really well, but if you’re playing Halo or Call Of Duty, there’s not really a scenario that says, ‘Hey, I need a Kinect.’ There is a lot of excitement, and there are still announcements to come about what people are doing with it. But [Kinect’s] place will be earned through the experiences that are out there and the developers that show interest. We will continue to build functionality through voice and using the RGB and depth cameras, and we’ll stay focused on that, but giving the consumers choice is pretty critical.