The Kinect is fairly integral to the Xbox One, to hear Microsoft tell it. It helps control all the TV features, it’s how you turn the console off and on, it’s the future of gesture control. And now it’s just been taken to a nice coffee shop where the Xbox One has told it that it just feels life is pulling them in different directions, and maybe they shouldn’t be bundled together.
Yep, the Kinect is becoming optional, starting June 9th. The funny part is how Microsoft, in the official announcement, plays it off as “offering more choices”:
We’ve heard that you want more choices from Xbox One. You want a wide variety of options in your games and entertainment experiences and you also want options in your hardware selection. To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision. Many of you are using Kinect for Xbox One every day. In fact, more than 80 percent of you are actively using Kinect, with an average of 120 voice commands per month on each console.
To be honest, I didn’t see this coming so soon. The Kinect being punted out of the bundle was an inevitability; as cost pressures come to bear on consoles, console manufacturers inevitably look for stuff to pull out of the box.
However, the plan for the Xbox One was always that it was going to be the next-generation TV control box: You would talk or wave at your TV to change channels, find content, even turn the freakin’ thing on. Take out the Kinect and, well, most of that goes out the window.
It’s especially odd because the Xbox One may be coming in second, but it’s still doing shockingly well. Both the PS4 and the Xbox One are selling well outside even the insane speculation of fanboys. Yeah, the PS4 may have moved seven million units in less than six months, but the Xbox One moved five million. They’ve both lapped the PS3 and Xbox 360 by orders of magnitude; in raw sales, Microsoft can make a fairly cogent argument that there’s a market for their Grand Vision Of The Unified Living Room.
Except… a hint lies in the press release. Tracking the use of vocal commands and gestures seems to indicate Microsoft has data that said Grand Vision isn’t coming together. Microsoft has been notoriously tight-lipped about the adoption of those TV features. But if they’re cutting out the Kinect, we might consider that a rather large hint.