Oh what a tangled web…
I truly feel this is one of the strangest rollouts of a new console cycle I’ve ever witnessed. As I’ve touched on extensively in the past, both Microsoft and Sony have almost spent as much time taking things back regarding misinformation about the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 as they have touting all the positive aspects of what we’ll get from them in the next-gen. Usually by this time, with launch day looming on the horizon, companies have settled into a comfort zone and are about to hit the cruise control. They’ve done their job promoting and selling their new system, now it’s just a matter of waiting for consumers to snatch them up. Well, not this time. A recent “clarification” released by Microsoft explained what types of data the Xbox One Kinect will collect and how the company plans to use that data.
Here’s how it breaks down. The Kinect will collect data regarding your personal appearance for some aspects of play. For instance, if you’d like to use the Kinect to sign in to your profile, it will map out certain key facial characteristics in order to recognize you by using numerical values (think lines of code in The Matrix). Microsoft says this data will stay on the console and is not shared. Now, if there are some games that need to access this data (or collect new information) regarding your physical appearance or surroundings, this data is supposedly only cached for that game session and is destroyed afterwards. However, if you play online using this data, Microsoft admits it may collect and analyze it in order to “improve the game experience,” but says it will be discarded when finished and is not warehoused. The company also states that you still have complete control over how photographs and images are shared that may be taken from your console, but the team there is quick to point out you shouldn’t expect this same level of privacy on Xbox Live. They state that (when using the DVR feature) players will be able to record in-game footage how they choose, which may very well contain your Gamertag and in-game actions that can be shared online via social media. Microsoft also states that it won’t be listening in on Skype calls to Grandma or your little brother.
There, feel better? I know your mind is 100% at ease now, and we can put this all behind us right?
No? Didn’t think so. The problem is, as I’ve said above, it’s WAY too late in the game for us to be hearing these types of explanations. It tells me that Microsoft should take notes for the Xbox Two’s release to ensure this type of boondoggle doesn’t happen again (as the company desperately needs practice at controlling the stream of information). Some of it’s the company’s fault, as many of these inconsistencies were perpetuated on its end. However, some of it falls on the gamers who jump to conclusions or, frankly, just overreact to concerns that may or may not be founded. After all, you can disable the Kinect by simply speaking the words “Kinect off,” or just unplugging the damn thing from your console and eliminating the problem all together.
Of course, it’s not too late to pick up an NES at the used-game store before next month if you still want a TRULY “unplugged” console.