Lately, Microsoft can be called wishy-washy when it comes to policy reversals and changes to its upcoming console, the Xbox One. If you have been following the developments, you probably don’t need me to tell you that Microsoft’s recent activities have been all over the place. Online DRM reversal and the used-games policy reversal are easily the two biggest about-faces we have seen, and all the while, Sony has enjoyed the praise of fans worldwide without having to change any policies or practices in regards to the PS4.
However, it seems that the reversals from Microsoft may finally be coming to a close. In a recent interview with CVG, Corporate VP Phil Harrison shed some light into the dark areas of the Xbox One. But one thing in particular caught my eye –that even though the Kinect is not required for the system to operate, it is still being included with every console. After a presumption by the interviewer that the Kinect would still be included with every Xbox One, Harrison had this to say:
“Correct. Xbox One is Kinect. They are not separate systems. An Xbox One has chips, it has memory, it has Blu-ray, it has Kinect, it has a controller. These are all part of the platform ecosystem.
What we have shown really well at Gamescom is the magic of games that use Kinect. We have shown the power of voice control. I'm probably going to piss off your readers unintentionally when I say this; I have an Xbox One at home, and being able to walk in and say "Xbox on", and for the system to recognize me, launch and load my profile, and put my choices of content on the front page is a very magical experience. It makes you think about your relationship with technology in a slightly different way. It's personal. It makes you think, I wish more devices would do this.”
Most would have thought that (given the recent track record) the announcement that the Kinect was not a requirement would have led to the announcement of an Xbox One with a lower price point, comparable to the PS4. But if Microsoft did that, what would that mean for the Xbox One? Basically, you would get an incomplete system that was incapable of doing what it was designed to do. I think we can all agree that this would be a bad thing.
I might get threats for saying this, but this decision to keep the Kinect as an integral part of the Xbox One ecosystem is a good thing. For the advancement of hardware technology to continue, it has to be supported by software. And making a decision to make the Kinect an optional purchase would only serve to narrow the market for developers making Kinect-capable games. It could narrow it so far, in fact, that the Kinect may have become more of a hassle for developers than a tool.
Now, I’m no Kinect super-fan. But I will concede that the device has interesting capabilities that can help to change how we experience games, and removing them from the console bundle would only shrink the fledgling market that was created with the first generation of Kinect. And seeing how the Xbox One is designed to fully take advantage of the Kinect toolset, taking it out would be an egregious error.
The Xbox One and the PS4 are already extremely similar in terms of computing power. The Kinect and its integration into the Xbox One’s system architecture is the one truly unique feature that Microsoft has going for it. So, standing its ground and keeping the Kinect in the box for a maximum installation rate not only makes sense, it could serve to bring new and exciting experiences to gaming, something that we don’t see much of these days.
So, Microsoft has listened to the fans. It has made the changes that needed to be made. But when it comes to Kinect, the company is standing its ground. It’s about damn time Microsoft. Good Job.