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Xbox One to be sold without Kinect for $399

Xbox One to be sold without Kinect for $399

Tue 13 May 2014 3:02pm GMT / 11:02am EDT / 8:02am PDT
BusinessHardware

It's official: Microsoft has unbundled its Kinect camera to offer a cheaper hardware option for consumers

Speculation had been mounting for months that a move like this was in the cards at Microsoft, but now it's actually happening: head of Xbox Phil Spencer confirmed today that starting on June 9 (in all markets where Xbox One is sold) the hardware will be offered without the Kinect camera for $399. This, of course, gives it pricing parity with Sony's PlayStation 4, which so far has been outpacing the Xbox One in sales.

While some might interpret this move to mean that Kinect is no longer that important, Spencer was sure to stress the opposite in his blog post. "To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision," he said. "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. Some of the most popular voice commands include 'Xbox On,' 'Xbox Broadcast' and 'Xbox Record That.' We will continue to offer a premium Xbox One with Kinect bundle to deliver voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalization, instant scanning of QR codes, and enhanced features only available with Kinect in games such as Kinect Sports Rivals, Just Dance 2014, Project Spark and more.

"If you buy Xbox One for $399 and later decide you want to have all the experiences Kinect enables, we will also offer a standalone sensor for Xbox One later this fall. We'll share more details about the standalone Kinect for Xbox One in the coming months."

In addition to the hardware unbundling news, Spencer revealed new initiatives for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. Commemorating the one-year anniversary of Games with Gold, members will receive an additional free Xbox 360 game in June. The Games with Gold titles for Xbox 360 in June are Dark Souls, Charlie Murder and a bonus game of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Spencer noted. Games with Gold is also coming to Xbox One in June, starting with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. If you have a Gold membership, you will be enrolled to get the free games for both Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Additionally, Microsoft is offering a program called Deals with Gold for Xbox One in June, which will provide discounts to members for "significant savings" on AAA titles like Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, "and a few other surprises." The company also plans to launch a virtual VIP room exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members where players will gain access to free games, monthly deals, and other benefits.

And finally, Spencer announced something that should please a number of Xbox gamers: starting in June Gold membership will no longer be necessary to use apps like Machinima, Twitch, Upload, Netflix, Univision Deportes, GoPro, Redbull, HBO Go, the NFL app for Xbox One, MLB.tv, NBA Game Time, NHL Game Center and more.

39 Comments

Thomas Dolby
Project Manager / Lead Programmer

331 279 0.8
Popular Comment
This must have been an agonising decision for Microsoft. On one hand they're giving customers what they want short term, on the other they've fragmented their user-base and damaged their investment in the Kinect long term. Developers will be even less willing to risk using the Kinect in games to any meaningful degree now, just like with the 360. Ultimately I think it will be for the better though, the Kinect has been around for quite a while now and there still hasn't been a game that makes it worth a purchase.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Thomas Dolby on 13th May 2014 4:33pm

Posted:3 months ago

#1

Richard Browne
EVP Gaming and Interactive

98 113 1.2
Popular Comment
Wow, talk about throwing in the towel.

Posted:3 months ago

#2

Ian Leydic
Student - Business Administration (M. Sc.)

3 0 0.0
Unbundling the Kinect seems like it'll just be like last gen again for Kinect games. If everyone had one it'd make sense to do something with it, but now just like last gen it'll be split. There hasn't been a must own Kinect game yet, but given time I"m sure either a game would use it perfectly or a must buy Kinect game itself would come out. Now who knows if it'll be anything more than how you open Netflix.

Posted:3 months ago

#3
The problem is - for at least the first few months here - everybody HAS had a kinect. But... a dev of a multi-platform game isn't going to try to shoehorn a gimmick in for that invested xbone audience since the rest of the market is already fragmented between with way more kinect-less hardware.

Posted:3 months ago

#4

Carlos Sanchez
Development Director

5 4 0.8
I don't like this approach by MS. I understand why they're doing it, mainly to compete on price with the PS4. However, I think they should have bitten the bullet and simply reduced the price of the existing main SKU to $400. This way you don't have a fragmented user base ala the 360, and it also keeps the Kinect sensor as a feature that developers could developer for knowing that 100% of the install base has one.

Posted:3 months ago

#5
I'm literally staggered at the incompetency of the senior management and leadership of Xbox. They constantly amaze me with their flip-flop approach to the XBO and this is the biggest reversal to date. I literally cannot think of what they are going to do next.

Posted:3 months ago

#6
Microsoft should of done this at the start, actually if the PR disaster which was the XBO announcement conference and E3, with all the DRM, online-only policies, in my opinion they have left it too late, the early adopters of the system now feel ripped off, and as people have say, what is the future for Kinect? With little to no games utilising the technology are people going to buy them separately, I do not think so! I feel like I am being Captain Hindsight, but if they just listened to their consumer base a year ago, the XBO would be selling better for MS.

Posted:3 months ago

#7

Ben Link
CoFounder and Podcast Host

5 13 2.6
I am happy with Microsoft's decision to offer multiple packages . Even though I dislike the Kinect and have it hidden behind my TV, I still use the voice commands all the time. Microsoft should have focused on the voice features exclusively over the unique game play and camera features from the beginning. A lot of people are worried about the fan base being split but hasn't the fan base been split from the beginning anyways? Hardcore gamers hate it and casual gamers usually tend to like it or put up with it. Microsoft is NOW giving people the option to choose for themselves. Why upset the half that doesn't want it when you can avoid it all together.

Posted:3 months ago

#8

James Berg
Games User Researcher

146 187 1.3
They've already got a fragmented user base for the Kinect - PS4 owners. The early adopters have already picked sides, so now they're aiming at the more general market. It's extremely unlikely in my opinion that we're going to see any kind of major investment in Kinect-enabled titles, since whomever is doing that development can only sell to what is, at this point, less than half the console market.

I'd love to be proven wrong, and start seeing some must-play games coming out for the hardware. I went PS4 this generation.

Posted:3 months ago

#9

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,156 1,076 0.5
Yeesh... as much as a HUGE deal that was made of Kinect, caving like this only send the message to the worst detractors that the thing just doesn't work as it should. Sure, they're wrong on many fronts, but this is all the ammo they need and I'd bet they STILL won't buy a One after this. Good job, Microsoft!

That and THIS:
"If you buy Xbox One for $399 and later decide you want to have all the experiences Kinect enables, we will also offer a standalone sensor for Xbox One later this fall. We'll share more details about the standalone Kinect for Xbox One in the coming months."
SEEMS to mean (to me at least) that any game that requires Kinect isn't being patched to NOT use the device. Meaning if you happen to be interested in one or more of those games but thought it would be Kinect-free to play, wellll... you need a Kinect ANYWAY.

Hee-ho? Yikes. So, they're getting that $100 (or less, as I bet the unbundled Kinect will be cheaper than that)... We'll see.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 13th May 2014 5:55pm

Posted:3 months ago

#10

Quincy Ward
Studying Computer Science

14 22 1.6
So much for the "One Experience" concept

Posted:3 months ago

#11

Andrew Jakobs
Lead Programmer

230 89 0.4
I think you're better of with buying the package WITH Kinect as it will be much cheaper in the end, don't expect the kinect2 to sell for less than $100 (unless you have a real bargaindeal), as you can see with the current kinect for the 360, it's very expensive at most places (here in the netherlands it sell's for between 120-140 euro's)..

Not a real smart move on MS part, but then again, I do think it will ship some more units because of it, but it will make sure developers won't spend much time on integrating kinect anymore.. But then again, they always had to keep in mind that there are people not being able to use the kinect at all due to placement of the console or restriction of the room.. (I cannot use the kinect due to no 5meter extentioncords being available)

Posted:3 months ago

#12

Pete Thompson
Owner / Admin

169 97 0.6
As much as I now like the Xbox One / Kinect package and feel it adds a great amount to the overall Xbox One experience I couldn't understand why the XO was not sold on it's own from day one..

I was an early adopter of the original Kinect (& PS Move etc), and as such I couldn't understand why MS forced the newer Kinect on all early XO owners, but having used it almost everyday since release its clear that it's a vast improvement over the original kinect, and using the voice commands in the dash and in games or for capturing game footage is second to none..

Posted:3 months ago

#13

Ron Dippold
Software/Firmware Engineer

18 67 3.7
Wow. We knew that was coming, but in six months? I was thinking they'd give it a year at least.

Posted:3 months ago

#14
To be honest it's a little to late for this in my opinion, sure unbundling the kinect would have helped the xbox one sell more on release in the first place, along with the several other questionable decisions Microsoft later had to backpeddle on in the xbox release, by removing it after release, they've simply undermined the only part of their stategy left in the xbox one, essentially everything they chose to do different in the xbox one, has basically proven a failure that had to be backtracked, whilst handing a reasonable lead to sony in the process, truly everyone involved in the decision making process that lead to all the later backpeddled decisions with xbox one, should be dumped from a great height with extreme prejudice.

They doing this entirely in the wrong order, they should really keep the kinect with the xbox one, whilst not force bundling will have helped sales at release, removing it won't make people choose an xbox one over a ps4 by this point, now there just damaging the support of the kinect which they already paid through the nose to support with their original force bundling strategy.

Posted:3 months ago

#15

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,072 1,007 0.9
Now everbody will be back to just counting pixels, I suppose.

But when price is obviously an issue and the Kinect clearly lacked a type of game which sold everybody on its technology (compare Wii Sports), then it needs to go. Same goes for further gimping your own device by building a pay wall in front of apps made by third parties. Apps which add layers of justification the device is in desperate need of.

Now let's wait and see how aggressive Sony responds this time. Anybody in favor of a video entitled "this is how you put games up for sale on PSN"?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 13th May 2014 7:45pm

Posted:3 months ago

#16

Petter Solberg
Freelance Writer & Artist

63 41 0.7
I still believe Kinect has a lot of potential, but this just shows that Microsoft currently have no ambition. They might as well just kill it then.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Petter Solberg on 13th May 2014 8:49pm

Posted:3 months ago

#17

Justin Shuard
J - E translator

42 167 4.0
I don't know how useful this will be long term, seeing as the PS4 is still the stronger console hardware-wise. Either way they'll really need to improve the UI and it seems mostly designed around Kinect voice commands at the moment.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Justin Shuard on 14th May 2014 8:55am

Posted:3 months ago

#18

Christian Keichel
Journalist

640 875 1.4
Popular Comment
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. Some of the most popular voice commands include 'Xbox On,' 'Xbox Broadcast' and 'Xbox Record That.'
So Microsoft is not only monitoring how many voice commands are used on every console, but even which commands exactly? Why should anybody believe, they are stopping here?

Posted:3 months ago

#19

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

481 290 0.6
Popular Comment
I said this before but, I'll say it again. This is a huge mistake for Microsoft. They are trying to go head to head with Sony with a machine that has proven itself, at least in the short time it's been on market, to be less powerful. This is neither a battle Microsoft can win in the minds of the consumers or the gamers.

The only logical move for them would have been to take a financial hit and level the price gap WITH Kinect still in the box. Existing buyers could have been appeased with a free download game of either Dead Rising 3, TitanFall or Forza or even two of those titles. As it stands now all they have realistically achieved is to remove their USP and make it inevitable that they will have to go bargain basement to 329 by Christmas.

I'd love to be wrong on this but, I have both a PS4 and Xbox One and Kinect really is the only thing that makes owning the Xbox One worth while at the moment. It's ability to integrate skype, TV controller, sound controller and media controller is so far superior to the PS4's ability in this area that the PS4 really is only used for games. Take away the Kinect and I'm left with an under powered next gen console that has inferior versions of all the games I can get on my PS4.

Posted:3 months ago

#20

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

644 260 0.4
As it stands now all they have realistically achieved is to remove their USP and make it inevitable that they will have to go bargain basement to 329 by Christmas
By that time they will have some games ready that will help selling the XB1.

Posted:3 months ago

#21

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
Thank god... Lets face it, Kinect was a dud since the beginning during the 360 days. Same can be said for the move. I cant find one game that would make it a worth while purchase. In turn it makes the console a more attractive product now that the price is lowered.

Posted:3 months ago

#22

Caleb Hale
Journalist

154 229 1.5
Microsoft has reversed Xbox One policies to the point one more would literally nullify the existence of the console. Here's hoping they've got a good show of games at E3. The sooner they can get past this launch year, the better.

Posted:3 months ago

#23

Ryan Locke
Lecturer in Media Design

60 16 0.3
Of course Kinect has potential, but so do many accessories - none of which matters if consumers just lose interest and flat out prefer not to use the device. Developers will respond in kind with similar waning interest.

I like this move, I'll probably buy an Xbox One now because of this move, I didn't want a Kinect....I do want its potential ;)

Posted:3 months ago

#24

Mats Holm
Technical Process Analyst

53 38 0.7
While this will drive sales, I hope it does not mean that MS is giving up on Kinect, I love controlling my Xbox with voice commands, but it needs the learning algorithms that they beta'd with 360. I also want Cortana to be bundled in there and I want it to become more robust for app usage. So please please please MS, with sugar on top, don't give up on Kinect improvements.

Posted:3 months ago

#25

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

900 1,330 1.5
Well theres good news and theres bad news about this decision. Where do we begin?

First, this $100 price drop is a very smart move on Microsoft's part and is long overdue. It will(or atleast should) help them start to close the sales gap between them and the PS4, atleast in the US. However, I think that it was a very bad move to remove the kinect from this new sku. They should have just taken the $100 hit and marked all current XBO's down to $399. It's not like they can't afford the hit. So while the newer cheaper sku is good for sales, the fact that they are now offering a kinect-less system is a pretty flawed move in my opinion, not just for splitting the user base but also because of it's functunality to the whole XBO experience. But atleast we have more good news.

Microsoft continued to listen to their fans/consumers and have finally(in a few weeks) removed the Xbox live gold requirement to view netflix, hula plus, youtube and pretty much all of those types of apps. It may be a bit overdue but they still really didn't have to do it(they've gone this long with the requirement) and they should be applauded for that move. l'm actually hoping that this is the start of bigger and better things to come as far as them taking fan feedback and constructive critism and actually making changes because of it. They also really need to start better utilizing their loyal rewards members(such as myself) for some of these kind of decisions in the future, especially if they plan on making a successor to XBO. Anyway, I can't wait to try out Dark Souls for free next month.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 14th May 2014 3:33am

Posted:3 months ago

#26

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

900 1,330 1.5
One more question just popped up in my head that wasn't answered. Will the new XBO sku be nearly as powerful as the PS4? The PS4 should technically be a bit more powerful but the newer system won't have to sacrifice any of it's processing power for kinect so shouldn't it be more likely to achieve 1080p and 60fps for most games now that it can devote it's full processing power?

Posted:3 months ago

#27

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

280 810 2.9
Popular Comment
Split user base. Yes. Cheaper? In a sense, yes. More appealing?

Am I the only one who thinks a Kinect-less Xbox One should be a LOT cheaper than that? I remember reading somewhere (reliable) that Kinect 2.0 was half the dollars in the box. So why price for parity with PS4 when the machine itself doesn't have it?

$299 will make a difference to its rate of sale. $399 will not, in my opinion: it's all the same problems, but without the USP.

Posted:3 months ago

#28

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,156 1,076 0.5
Dan, I have the feeling that any lower, and Microsoft would consider the system "undervalued" at this point. It SHOULD be $299- $349, but they KNOW people will see that Kinect isn't included and that will sell a few units at the new price point.

Now, that $100 drop is enough to generate sales right away (for a time at least), but let's say they drop the price again for the holidays or afterwards on that base unit AND pack in a game or two. Boom go the sales numbers (up some more) and maybe, if E3 this year and next show off some exclusives worth buying day one (that don't slyly force users to go back and buy a Kinect to get the most out of them), maybe we'll see actual Xbox One sales numbers not needing the "shipped versus sold" booster seat console and game numbers usually get in the press from those who post stories straight from a press release...

Posted:3 months ago

#29

Jeff Norris
IT Contractor

7 0 0.0
Too late! I just purchased a PS4 the other day, without a camera I might add. Also purchased a Wii U. No joke, used a bunch of points and chose against Xbox One.

Kinect shouldn't have been included in the first place. There are many customers who don't want this feature. I'm glad they're releasing a SKU without Kinect, but it's too little too late and I'll see where they are in a couple of years. Too many missteps for me, and I bought the Xbox360 and the original Xbox, but we've gotta draw a line somewhere. I have a feeling that a LOT of other consumers are going to do the same and have done the same. I can see how developers are nervous about the camera being unbundled too, but many don't want to play those types of games anyway.

Posted:3 months ago

#30

Nick McCrea
Gentleman

178 231 1.3
Totally agree with Dan, here. Whilst I think we all see the necessity of doing something like this, I don't see how price parity puts MS in a winning position. It's the weaker console (which only matters to the core gaming demographic, to be sure, but evangelism by core gamers plays a big part in wider adoption). MS have also divested themselves of a lot of first party strength, so I'm not all that confident of great exclusives coming down the line. They're on the back foot in terms of sales, so it'll be more expensive for them to buy exclusivity from the big publishers for any stand out system sellers they want in the future.

As a huge 360 fan, I'm just not sure what it would take to get me to buy a Xbox One at this point. It's got to be one or (preferably) more of the following:

- A further, aggressive, loss-inducing price cut, which Sony can't match due to a weaker overall financial position.
- A slew of awesome exclusives.
- Some kind of updated version of the console hardware which addresses some of the main hardware problems causing the sub par performance (e.g. ESRAM changes).

Unfortunately I see all of these options as highly unlikely, or not possible to deliver, in any kind of reasonable time frame at this point.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Nick McCrea on 14th May 2014 10:06am

Posted:3 months ago

#31

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 939 0.8
Its what people have been asking for, so I think this is a good idea. A bit surprised they haven't undercut the PS4 price slightly though.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 14th May 2014 10:12am

Posted:3 months ago

#32

Nate Ballantyne
QA Manager

22 23 1.0
@Adam
I think in this case it was a toss up of the two, personally I'd have been happier with a reduced price. Meh.

Posted:3 months ago

#33

Neil Young
Programmer

283 331 1.2
I find it interesting most of the positive comments about the kinect are for the voice side of it - I assume the audio side of the hardware is far cheaper than the video side.

Posted:3 months ago

#34

Nick McCrea
Gentleman

178 231 1.3
@Neil, completely agree with you there. Why not ship the thing with a $10 microphone built in and get the benefit of the voice navigation, when that seems to be the thing most people like (when it works?)

Posted:3 months ago

#35

Antony Carter
Senior Programmer

85 47 0.6
Wonder why they didnt go for a kinect lite.

When people talk about kinect its mainly the voice stuff, a cheap mic array could of kept all that functionality and still been sold at $399

Posted:3 months ago

#36

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
Right now Xbox is on a level playing field with PS4. They essentially got rid of all the stuff people, including myself were complaining about. One would wonder why in the world you had to be online all the time or have a device connected 24/7 to monitor yours and your entire families moves. Lets not forget about games having to be registered and always online for you to play a single player offline game.

And I really was vocal about all this here in the forums. There were people here trying to convince others an themselves that this was something that can be justified.

I always viewed Microsofts methods as uneccesary. The only reason, to include many of these features was to attach a ball and chain to there products. Who in their right mind would be fine with that?

And alot of the articles here, build on nothing more than the hype Machine these companies create. And any rational or practical person would understand that alot of the features microsoft was implementing or imposing on its Xbox user base were UNECESSARY and or UNWANTED.

Lets see how it goes now for VR and if any of my comments regarding it are so unrealistic.

But anyway, I guess Ill wait for a price drop to get my hands on it. Good thing about this move is that Im now ok with purchasing an XB1 at some point.

Posted:3 months ago

#37

John Bye
Senior Game Designer

480 451 0.9
I wonder how long it's going to be before they make all the Xbox One voice recognition stuff work using a headset. It's all very well saying "Kinect remains an important part of our vision", but at the moment it's basically a glorified $100 positional microphone that made them uncompetitive on pricing with their main rival without really adding anything to the package that couldn't have been achieved with a $5 headset.

There are very few games available for the Kinect camera, and the ones that were released seem to have sold poorly. Microsoft themselves seem to be admitting in the quotes above that most people just use it for voice commands. So without games, what's the point of all that expensive 3D camera hardware? Biometric login and scanning QR codes? Waving your arms around to navigate the console's UI, when you could do it faster and more accurately using the controller and voice commands? Hardly killer features.

Posted:3 months ago

#38

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