Xbox One won't require Kinect after all

Microsoft's console will still work when depth camera is unplugged; user settings can also disable functionality

The Xbox One as it will launch is a very different machine than the Xbox One as Microsoft originally envisioned it. In an IGN interview with Xbox corporate VP Marc Whitten posted today, the company revealed that yet another complaint levied against the system--that it would require the use of a Kinect motion-sensing camera to function--is being addressed.

Whitten acknowledged, "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." That means no powering the system with voice control, or using gestures to navigate menus. Additionally, users will have the ability to turn the sensor off through the system settings, which Whitten said would prevent it from collecting any information (although its IR functionality will still work).

The backtracking on the Kinect requirement is the latest in a series of about-faces for Microsoft since it first took the wraps off the Xbox One several months ago. First the company changed the system's online check-in requirements, as well as restrictions on playing used games. Then it changed its stance on allowing independent developers to self-publish their games through Xbox Live Arcade, and most recently, the company revealed it would include a headset with the basic hardware after previously confirming that it wouldn't.

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Latest comments (27)

Matthew Hardy Studying Multimedia/Game Design, ITT Technical Institute4 years ago
at this point MS should just stick a PS4 emblem on it and be done with it.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
At this point people should stop complaining about the Xbox 1 since it has remedied nearly everything they were complaining about in the first place. But you know the complaints will continue...
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Morgan King Animator 4 years ago
I cannot wait to hear the whole story about the XBOne development after the dust from all this settles. I've never seen a situation like this - it's both hugely admirable and incredibly surprising to be so flexible after the E3 reveal. Makes me wish there was more of an outcry over dashboard advertising instead of some of the more technologically regressive wishes that were addressed. Fascinating, though.
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Show all comments (27)
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Um.... so what about all the games and features that mandate its usage? Are they all hastily being reprogrammed or is MS pulling a fast one here as in when you get the One home and decide to NOT kinect that Kinect... nothing right will function until you DO plug it in at least once in a while...

Anyway, what a PR nightmare this all has been. WIll it, wont it, it shouldn't, it won't, it will, it might, yeesh...
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 4 years ago
Never seen anything like this, a huge PR disaster.

Its like they are not clear anymore one what the new Xbox is.

But bottom line its becoming a more attractive machine. I was very vocal about the initial XboxOne features. I was against it. Not for the features themselves, but for the mandatory use of them. For those who care about motion sensing and voice recognition or streaming themselves through a camera its fine. HoweverI never cared for any of those things, especially the mandatory online thing. I dont care for the DVR features either.

What it boils down to is, it is great that people have a choice now. Im not against any of the features themselves. it was just the way they were implimented. I found there initial stratagy as very draconian, and they didnt care what people think. It felt like they wanted to decide how people should play games and tell them what they need instead of the other way around.

At least now people have a choice on how they want to use there console. And now I can stop complaining.

I have no intent on buying an Xbox right now though since they have delivered very mixed messages, so its hard to know exactly what the XboxOne will offer. So Im gonna sit this one out for a bit and wait and see. Before I was adamant about giving it a chance, however now, im open to it. Doesnt mean I will Im decided for a PS4 and WiiU, more because of the exclusive games than anything else.

But as things stand now, the playing field for both the XBO and PS4 are almost leveled out.
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 4 years ago
In coming announcement of new sku that doesn't have Kinect and is priced the same as ps4!
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Next up, Microsoft lets you walk into a store, pick up an empty Xbox One box and fill it with what you want like a more expensive all you can eat buffet with a sliding price scale for all. What happened to the cocky "#dealwithit" and other statements pumping this console up as the best thing since sliced bread? Now it just seems like a tail between the legs retreat to the middle ground just to get kudos from industry folk and shut down/shut up the remaining naysayers.

Eh, whatever - it'll sell no matter what form it comes in, but at this point, if they add or remove something else, it'll be a small wonder there's not some revolt along the supply or manufacturing chain...
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
We should remember that MS still includes all the things in the package which they originally announced. There was merely an important attitude adjustment. Instead of holding base functionality hostage over you being ready to use the bright new future feature, the Xbox One now functions the way you want it to.

Now it is Microsoft's turn to make you want to go online 24/7, to make you want to turn on the Kinect all the time. Without punishing consumers who can't or won't do it. That is the reasonable thing to do. Once more, MS has proven to be the hydra that chops off and regrows its own heads.
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Gil Salvado 3D/2D Artist 4 years ago
Paul Jace
At this point people should stop complaining about the Xbox 1 since it has remedied nearly everything they were complaining about in the first place. But you know the complaints will continue...
Yeah, now we can forget all about their ignorance and buy their wonderful mutlimedia device. Just like nothing ever happened.

We complaint to make them understand that we don't want their product as it was. We will continue to remind them that we don't want such features in the future. Just in case they forget.

Years of good customer service can be wasted by a serious of ignorant announcements and will take months to be made undone. No ones complaining about Sony's arrogance at the PS3 launch anymore, but none forget either. It's a miracle to me that Microsoft didn't learned from this and made the same mistakes. And why should we treat them any different?
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John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London4 years ago
So basically they're saying "you're still paying an extra 100 for this camera that none of our launch titles use, but now you don't have to plug it in if you don't want to". Whereas Sony took the opposite tack of saying "you can pay an extra 50 for a camera if you want one, but you can still play most of our games without it".
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee4 years ago
The gains MS are set to make with each policy reversal are staggering. Some people reflect on disastrous PR others will realise there's a console with growing momentum. This is a console that already had an almost guaranteed record launch ahead of it, now there's little to complain about in the long term...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 13th August 2013 10:09am

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
@ Christian Keichel

We already know that the NSA, GCHQ, Chinese intelligence etc can watch you via your webcam without you knowing about it.
Best to put some tape over it.
Hardware manufacturers put back doors into their devices to make life easier for their own nation's security services. (Which they obviously deny).
Big Brother really is watching you.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd4 years ago
@Paul Jace

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Ken Varley Owner & Freelance Developer, Writer, Devpac4 years ago
Im having a guess that more than 50% of Xbox One users will have Kinect disconnected, with no intentions of using it. I bet that developers will now start to become wary of this. Resulting in more generic Kinect usage in games, that won't be missed if its not in use.

MS really should have just kept it as an always connected requirement. Give the devs something to use for special features.
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Justin Biddle Software Developer 4 years ago
@Ken Varley

To be honest I bet most won't care. Despite being vocal at the end of the day laziness will win through. People will plug it in and leave it that way. That's not to say it's not a good move to allow users to disconnect it but I bet most won't. They won't want to bother plugging it in for games that need it then unplugging afterwards. People moan about privacy but your average consumer won't bother doing anything about it if a lazy option is available.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 13th August 2013 10:41am

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.4 years ago
They should rename the console the Xbox OneEighty.
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Paul Shirley Programmers 4 years ago
@Ken Varley: "Im having a guess that" the XBone 'would you like to enable Kinect' prompt will be one way, it won't switch off again or remind you to do it manually at the end of each specific gaming session.

Microsoft can safely rely on inertia to gradually get all those Kinects permanently enabled as long as any single game users want to play requires or encourages it. They'll try the same with online requirement.

While this is arguably how they should have done it from day 1 it's still not something I'm particularly comfortable with. The seemingly endless backtracking is more show than substance, saying what they have to in public but scheming to implement it anyway.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Shirley on 13th August 2013 12:15pm

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Caleb Hale Journalist 4 years ago
I hope Xbox One's pre-launch problems serve as a reminder to all game console makers they should focus first on their core audience.

Microsoft has spent a lot of time reversing elements that make the Xbox One a less attractive device to hardcore game players, and I'm sure that's come at the expense of further conversation about the console's non-gaming functions (the much-maligned TV box, sports fantasy league introduction it got back in May).

It's amazing the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are essentially the same machine, with a few fine-tuning adjustments here and there, but the former is criticized while the latter is universally lauded.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
You should not be afraid of the NSA catching you scratching your balls on the couch. You should be afraid of your greed once a game includes a way to monetize you scratching your balls and cutting you in. The Internet has pretty much proven that already with consoles merely catching up.

However, should I find myself on the Chinese television show "Western Devils Scratching their Balls" without getting any money, then I demand UN sanctions and a stop to second hand video trading.

As for the NSA listening to XBL conversations, determining threat levels according to those conversation resulting in surgical strikes of armed drones... I believe the saying ends with "let god sort them out".
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Steven Hodgson Programmer, Code in Progress Ltd4 years ago
Makes me wish there was more of an outcry over dashboard advertising instead of some of the more technologically regressive wishes that were addressed. Fascinating, though.
If I could get rid of the "SingStar" thing from PS3 games section, that would make me so happy.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
@Gil Salvado
We complaint to make them understand that we don't want their product as it was. We will continue to remind them that we don't want such features in the future. Just in case they forget.
Yup and thats why they made all of those changes, because they realized that we didn't want the Xbox 1 the way it was originally envisioned. Complaining to get those changes made in the first place was a good thing. Continuing to complain after they were all changed is not a good thing. And even though this is all taken place before the system launched, none of us are likely to ever forget it one way or the other.

@Robin Clarke
I mentioned in another thread that they should drop the price down to $450. I don't see them going to $400 to match the PS4 because Kinect is still included in every box. And that $50 isn't that big of a difference, atleast not to me. But the way they are going the next change we might be discussing is the launch price. After all, they still have roughly 3 months to go so who knows.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 14th August 2013 2:46am

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Morgan King Animator 4 years ago
If MS wants to sell the Kinect tech to people, simply having a compelling demonstration of what it can do and how it might be desirable should be enough. Sadly, nobody - at least outside the PC modding community - has made anything that resembles that point.
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Gareth O'Neill Environment Artist (Contract), Ubisoft Reflections4 years ago
lol Don't think I've ever Seen anything like this before with regards to so many changes of "Set in stone Can't change for love nor money" policies, I expect the Next Announcement to be,

"The Xbox One80 is now Backwards Compatible with all PS3 Games."
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Saehoon Lee Founder & CEO, Pixellore4 years ago
Ok, now so can we buy XboxOne for the same price as PS4 without Kinect? :D
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Paul Shirley Programmers 4 years ago
I can't see Microsoft unbundling the Kinect in the near future. I believe it's an essential part of the the media hub side of XBone, without it you have no credible remote control of the device, the controller is a clumsy alternative.

My belief is Microsoft see XBone as a media hub that also plays next gen games. They've been so willing to backtrack (or give the appearance of it) on gaming features because that's the secondary function of the box, an important one with customers they need to hold on to, but overall it's more important they get boxes into living rooms than take a hardline on gaming.

XBone in reality is Microsots last chance to grab the living room and a continuous stream of media rental profit before Android and Apple own that market. After a decade trying and failing to own the smart/IP/connected TV market it's come down to re-purposing XBox. Until that dream dies in failure anything that would interfere with it will not be tolerated, including dumping Kinect. All backtracking to date has been gaming specific - you won't need online to game, you won't need Kinect to game... but it's a good bet none of the media features will work without both enabled.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Shirley on 14th August 2013 1:08pm

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David Serrano Freelancer 4 years ago
@Klaus Preisinger

While it's a great premise for a sitcom, the concern isn't the NSA hacking in to watch us scratch our balls. Or to watch others scratch them for us lol. The legitimate concern is the ability Microsoft will have to pimp out a trojan horse analytic data collection device to the highest bidders. There are countless companies, trade and special interest groups who will pay big bucks to access the different types of data the XBO will have the ability to collect about everyone and everything in its field of view. I'm actually shocked that privacy advocacy groups and politicians haven't gone ape shit about this yet. Yet being the key word.
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Might as well include the game. Xbox 1 the sitcom because this is just too funny and sad.
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