For the longest time, people have been saying that the Kinect is the single thing holding the Xbox One back. It made the Xbox One cost 100 dollars more than the PS4, due to the extra cost of equipment. It also caused a bit of controversy in that it could not be turned off. The Kinect was always watching you, and this caused serious problems for anyone who was concerned for their privacy. In fact, many U.S. military installations could not even bring an Xbox One onto their grounds because the Kinect is always recording. Many analysts have been saying that the Xbox One could overtake the PS4 if it simply didn’t require the Kinect.
So Microsoft decided to try something new. They updated their firmware so that the Xbox One can run without the Kinect attached, and decided to start selling the Xbox One and the Kinect separately. This has resulted in a 100 dollar price drop for the Xbox One, and has alleviated a lot of the privacy issues that many people were feeling.
But is this the cure all that Microsoft was looking for? Many people have already turned to the PS4 because of their misgivings with the Xbox One. Microsoft is also still working to regain some clout with the gaming populace after their horrendous DRM scare of last year’s E3. Not only that, but Microsoft is still saying that the Kinect is central to their experience, so this may mean that some games will simply be gimped without the Kinect and others may not be playable at all.
But at the same time, giving up the Kinect may solve some of the other scandals that have been plaguing Microsoft. Many of you remember Resolutiongate, the scandal in which many AAA releases ran in 1080p on the PS4 but not on the Xbox One. It turns out that the system resources (memory and CPU and the like) are hard to allocate properly on the Xbox One, harder than they are on the PS4 at least, and that’s why it’s difficult to get games running in full 1080p HD on the console.
Why are these resources hard to allocate? Well for one, the Kinect always has to be running. No matter what app you are using, the Xbox Kinect has to be listening and interpreting your speech in order to be able to switch to your TV if you say “Xbox play The Wonder Years” in the middle of a game of Halo.
With the Kinect gone, Microsoft has said that they are looking into allowing game developers to use those freed up resources. This means that Resolutiongate may be at an end. It just depends on how difficult it is to actually use those resources while making a game. Also, then there’s the question of what happens if you DO have a Kinect attached? Are you once again forced into 900 or 720p resolution?
Either way, Microsoft will need more than just a price drop to compete with the PS4. We will have more updates on Microsoft’s new policies when we visit their booth at E3 this year.
Senior Contributing Writer