Well knock me down with a feather, Microsoft announced tonight that it is bringing out a Kinect-less version of the Xbox One.
In a blog post titled “Delivering More Choices for Fans”, new Xbox chief Phil Spencer told the world that from June 9th, people will be able to buy an Xbox One without the Kinect. The new package will cost $399 (just over R4 000) and will be available “in all markets where Xbox One is sold”.
This is big news, as the Kinect has been touted from the beginning by Microsoft as an integral part of the Xbox experience.
The internet, as usual, has responded acerbically to the news, with one Twitter user summing up Microsoft’s latest about-face with this tweet:
The only E3 promise left for Microsoft to backpedal on now is the actual existence of the Xbox One.
— mAtt (@toythatkills) May 13, 2014
Apparently, Microsoft is responding to user feedback and wants to cater to gamers who don’t want to talk to their Xbox Ones. Spencer said that 80% of people use the Kinect’s voice commands regularly, and that each console registers an average of 120 voice commands a month, but TheRegister writes ” But when you think about it, those figures aren’t all that impressive. One in five people don’t use voice commands, and if someone uses voice command to turn the console off and on every day for a month, that’s 60 commands taken care of right away. People are just not chatty with the Xbox, it seems.”
There is also some speculation on Kotaku that Kinect not being mandatory might mean that Microsoft can re-purpose any processing power previously needed for Kinect to other things, which could have a positive effect on its performance. Microsoft didn’t say anything about it, however. Perhaps they’ll go into more detail at E3 next month.
Games with Gold changes
Other things mentioned in the blog include a few changes to the Xbox’s Games with Gold programme. To celebrate a year of Games with Gold and to thank gamers for participating, he said Xbox Live Gold members will get not two, but three games in June: Dark Souls, Charlie Murder and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade edition.
And that’s not all. Spencer said the Xbox One will finally join the Games for Gold programme as of June, with two games added to the roster for One owners: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. There will also be a new Deals with Gold feature that will offer discounts on games each month.
Lastly, all Xbox owners will have access to apps as of June, regardless of whether or not they have Xbox Live Gold memberships.
While this is very good news for international Xbox fans, we’ve yet to hear anything about what it will mean for the Xbox One’s local launch in September. At the very least I hope the Xbox One will cost around the same as the PlayStation 4, if not less as a result.