Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox One will not require a plugged-in Kinect sensor to function, but that it has no plans to release a Kinect-less console bundle as an alternative.
UPDATE: Over on this Reddit thread , Microsoft community chap Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hyrb shot down rumours that the company is planning a Kinect-less Xbox One bundle.
He simply said, “We have no plans for that. We are 100 per cent all in on Kinect.”
ORIGINAL STORY: Reiterating messaging from May, Microsoft’s Marc Whitten told IGN that Xbox One users can disable Kinect entirely, and even unplug the sensor if they like.
“Like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor,” he said.
“You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode.
“You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.”
Speaking to Kotaku, a Microsoft representative confirmed that games which use Kinect in a supplemental sense – for non-essential features like optional voice commands, for example – then users won’t need to plug the sensor in to play them. However, you’ll clearly sitll need it for games which use Kinect as a central gameplay feature, like Kinect Sports Rivals.
Asked whether there are plans to sell a Kinect-free Xbox One bundle, which would presumably enable a lower price, the representative said Kinect “is still an essential and integrated part of the Xbox One platform”.
“By having it as a consistent part of every Xbox One, game and entertainment creators can build experiences that assume the availability of voice, gesture and natural sensing, leading to unrivaled ease of use, premium experiences and interactivity for consumers,” the spokesperson said.
On NeoGAF, senior Microsoft PR executive Albert Penello reiterated that the platform holder still believes in Kinect.
“We aren’t interested in splitting the development base. The more demos I’ve seen, the more I’ve used it – the more impressed I am. The team feels strongly about Kinect, and I hope we’re able to prove that when you use it,” he wrote.
“We also have a ton of privacy settings to allow people to turn off the camera, or microphones, or put it in a state just for ‘Xbox On’ and IR blasting – there will be a lot of user control for that.
“The thing we all understood, and hence this change, is that there are some scenarios where people just may not be comfortable. We wanted people to be 100% comfortable, so we allow the sensor to be unplugged.”
Although Microsoft had mentioned the ability to turn off the camera before, many commenters are hailing the unplugging part as yet another policy reversal in response to consumer backlash.
Microsoft’s U-turn on its used games-unfriendly but digital future-proof DRM policy was the first of a series of reversals.
It later went on to confirm self-publishing on the Xbox One, having previously acquired quite a poor reputation among indies.
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