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Roundtable: Disconnecting Kinect

Roundtable: Disconnecting Kinect

Wed 14 May 2014 10:47am GMT / 6:47am EDT / 3:47am PDT
PublishingDevelopment

With Kinect no longer a necessary aspect of the Xbox One experience, what might the future hold for Microsoft's console?

It was just shy of a year ago that Microsoft first announced the Xbox One, which at the time was planned to require Kinect to work at all. Microsoft's Phil Harrison called the bundled peripheral the system's "game-changer," something that would encourage developers to really explore what the new technology could do.

But after a cool reception to the system as a whole, Microsoft began changing things. It dropped the Xbox One's always-online requirement. It made the system functional even if a Kinect wasn't plugged in. It allowed indies to self-publish. It packed in a headset for players who didn't want to chat using Kinect. After all that, there was still one frequent request from gamers that went unfulfilled: to drop the Kinect from the hardware package entirely and cut the $499 asking price.

Microsoft finally acknowledged that request yesterday, announcing a Kinect-less Xbox One to go on sale next month for $399. Microsoft's Xbox head Phil Spencer insisted that, "Kinect remains an important part of our vision," but clearly the company's vision has shifted over the past year.

So what's the fallout from this move? Is price parity with the PlayStation 4 enough for Microsoft to bridge the early gap in this round of the console wars? Has Microsoft lost its chance to establish Kinect as the new paradigm of user interface? Was motion-sensitive gaming a fad whose time has passed?

Steve Peterson

"Xbox One sales will probably equal or exceed PS4 sales once this price change occurs, at least in North America"

Clearly Microsoft feels they can move a significantly greater number of Xbox Ones without Kinects than with it, and they are probably right. The Xbox One has not had a killer game or service yet that requires Kinect, and Microsoft must have looked ahead and not seen that arriving in the near future. Microsoft didn't want to have a greater loss on each unit by simply reducing the price, so the Kinect had to go. Effectively, developers can't count on the Kinect in the future (though it will be in a majority of the installed base for some time to come), so we will see very few games requiring the Kinect from now on.

The positive side of this decision is that the playing field is much more level between the PS4 and the Xbox One. Graphically, this will be even more true, as Microsoft reserved some 10% of the Xbox One's graphics power for Kinect processing, and that will likely no longer be true. Add that to the processing boost expected from DirectX12, and the Xbox One will probably be a lot closer to the PS4 in graphics capability. Now the battle comes down to exclusive games, exclusive content and marketing muscle, and perhaps other technologies (VR? Game streaming?). It's going to be a much closer contest now.

Xbox One sales will probably equal or exceed PS4 sales once this price change occurs, at least in North America. A lower price will help Microsoft everywhere else, but Sony has a lot more fans in Europe than Microsoft does. We probably haven't seen all of Microsoft's strategy unfold yet. The company has a huge advantage over Sony because of the $50 billion+ Microsoft has tucked in its piggy bank, and its ongoing profitability. Sony, meanwhile, continues to struggle financially (through no fault of the PlayStation). Microsoft can, if it chooses, spend far more on marketing than Sony could, and easily continue to bundle software or run sales on the Xbox One in order to boost sales where Sony probably has to keep a tight rein on marketing spending.

1

James Brightman

I'm torn between scolding Microsoft or praising the Xbox team. On the one hand, who didn't see this coming? Kinect was never all that popular on the Xbox 360, and while the camera and voice recognition were much improved for the Xbox One iteration, it didn't take a genius to realize that it couldn't possibly justify a mandated pack-in that put it $100 above the PS4. The argument could very well be made that the company should have made a prompt about-face on Kinect in the same manner that it did with the always-online policy reversal. Instead, sales have been lagging the competition and Microsoft has had to play catch up with Sony. On the other hand, now that Microsoft has actually unbundled Kinect, I can praise them for at least not being so stubborn as to drag the Kinect on for the next year or more, ultimately hindering the progress of the Xbox business for a peripheral few developers ever truly cared about.

"Now that Kinect's been cut loose Xbox One will have the unrestricted wiggle room it needs to flex its own muscle"

As Steve rightly points out, this move now yields much greater parity among the two next-gen platforms, and that should make a huge difference to consumers and developers who should be able to use more of the Xbox One's graphical processing power. Let's face it, the Kinect was the ugly albatross hanging around Xbox One's neck, and now that it's been cut loose Xbox One will have the unrestricted wiggle room it needs to flex its own muscle. Although a proper technical analysis would be better left to technical minds like Rich Leadbetter at Gamer Network's Digital Foundry, my hope is that we'll see far fewer stories about frame rate or resolution discrepancies between PS4 and Xbox One going forward.

So to answer the question of motion gaming's relevance, I don't think it's a fad on the scale of Guitar Hero, but the problem has always been that the software has felt too gimmicky (with a few exceptions) and core games could be better enjoyed with a familiar controller. I think things could actually swing back in Kinect's favor once VR gaming actually takes hold. Perhaps that's what Phil Spencer means when he refers to Microsoft's vision. If there's one thing I learned from my few Oculus Rift demos, it's that I intuitively wanted to reach out into the virtual world to grab or control things. That's when motion controls could actually feel natural, and ironically a controller suddenly feels out of place.

Rachel Weber

So it's no longer compulsory to have a government spy camera attached to your Xbox One - who could have seen that coming? The sad truth is everyone but Microsoft, and that's the real worry. It shows not only how badly they judged their audience, but suggests there's a creeping desperation on the part of sales executives. Kinect was supposed to be the big differentiator for Xbox One, Microsoft was firm that it was vital to the experience, but now they've relegated it to the peripherals pile along with all those plastic guitars and light guns to try and boost sales. At this point you feel as though Microsoft would smear the Xbox One with red lipstick and dress it in frilly knickers if they thought it would shift more units, so now is the time to start a petition for any other hardware changes you'd like to see. I'll be setting my petition for a crumpet toaster live any day now.

"So it's no longer compulsory to have a government spy camera attached to your Xbox One, who could have seen that coming?"

Snarky? Perhaps, but Kinect became a joke to the hardcore, a baffling addition to the casual and a conspiracy theory dream for the paranoid. And yet another device for your mother to fail to work Skype on. ("I can't hear you... can you hear me? Wha... no, now you've frozen...")

The response from developers on social media has been one marked with head-shaking and, more damningly, shrugging. Some, those who actually wanted to develop for the damn thing, feel rightly disappointed and there must be studios working on something for Kinect right now that are having a really bad day. A few are sad that the motion control genre is going, but I suspect they're probably parents of young children that they're desperate to exhaust. (And to those parents I say - set up a padded room and invest in an Oculus Rift.)

The biggest loser in this though? The early adopter, the one group that stuck by Microsoft through all the "always online" drama, who brandished their pre-order receipts with pride. For those that bought their machines on day one they've already had to endure watching the retail price fall just three months after they bought the console, now it's dropping again. And still the only decent game they've got to play on it is Titanfall.

2

Matthew Handrahan

I'm not sure I have it in me to hate on Microsoft for doing the right thing here. When it came to launching a new generation of Xbox hardware, there really was no other option than to roll the dice again with Kinect. It didn't work - not everything in business does - and Microsoft could quite easily have dragged its feet for another year before finally tearing off the band-aid. If I have a complaint it's that it seems to have stopped halfway, dangling the carrot that this maligned peripheral will one day return as a vital aspect of the corporate vision. Frankly, that seems disingenuous, one last shot of hubris in what seems like an unmistakable retreat.

"Now that the price tag is the same, the appeal of Titanfall is starting to look like the single biggest difference between the two platforms"

But I'm going to have to take exception to Rachel's assertion that all Xbox One owners have is Titanfall. To be brutally honest, as a PlayStation 4 owner I feel like I don't even have that. Indeed, I can confidently state that I would swap inFamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack for just a few days with Respawn's excellent debut. And then there's Dead Rising 3, Forza 5 and Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare - not one of them a masterpiece, but to my mind only inFamous keeps pace from Sony's AAA crop. Obviously, when it comes to taste in games opinions will always vary, but I don't think I've ever owned a console so bereft of worthwhile top-tier content in its first year as the PlayStation 4.

That's not to say that Microsoft has knocked it out of the park, exactly, but Sony has outright dropped the ball, plugging the yawning gaps in its release schedule with the promise of indie games that, for the most part, have yet to arrive. And now that Kinect is not an essential part of the Xbox One proposition, now that the price tag is the same - and given that Microsoft's backtracking on self-publishing is an established fact rather than a fresh indignity - the appeal of Titanfall is starting to look like the single biggest difference between the two platforms.

The momentum remains with Sony, of course, but as a consumer I just hope there's enough cash in the Japanese giant's leaky coffers to compete with Microsoft on development. With the playing field finally level, the truth will out.

29 Comments

David Howard Editor-in-Chief and Founder, One Hit Pixel

12 19 1.6
Interesting opinions. I find Matthew's reasoning strange though given he clearly highlights the importance of a difference in taste yet still picked up a particular console when seemingly his choice was on the other one.

With a portfolio of InFamous, Don't Starve, Killzone, Knack, Final Fantasy XIV, MLB 14, Resogun, Warframe and more exclusive to the platform there's plenty for an opening 7 months when you consider multi-platform and historic debut years as well. It's also highlighting the importance of not just having triple-A titles any longer - something the PS3 and 360 showcased for years.

As for Titanfall, its release on both PC and 360 have likely been extremely damaging to being the "killer app" on Xbox One.

Posted:5 months ago

#1

John Karageorgiou consultant

29 34 1.2
Popular Comment
All of this "chop & change" that is happening at MS's Xbox division is indicative of a poorly formulated product development and marketing strategy. It is acceptable to change one's strategy in response to feedback from customers or to outwit competitors, but the rate and scale of changes that are happening creates the impression that MS are a) in constant reactive mode, and b) in desperation mode.
This is not good for a customer that bought into their "One" vision and strategy, and by unbundling the Kinect there is also no underlying technology to support a "One" vision either. What exactly does the Xbox One stand for then?

Posted:5 months ago

#2
Kinect was dead on arrival it first came to market. Quirky control mechanism that never worked well. Designed by engineer, not game developer.

Posted:5 months ago

#3

Aleksi Ranta Product Manager - Hardware

281 130 0.5
Popular Comment
Its a shame that now MS is saying that they are listening to feedback and making changes accordingly, when in reality they should have been listening to feedback a year ago and acting accordingly, both in terms of hardware and software. Like john said, Microsoft is reacting, not preempting.

Regarding kinect, the v1 never took off and i guess not many people were satisfied with the hardware. coming out with a v2 which is hardbundled into the console, well there isnt much goodwill going around which would make value the product much above 0.

A perfect launch window selling strategy for the Xbox one, I came up during lunch yesterday, might have been this: "Folks here is the new Xbox One (without kinect) for 499USD. We will also throw in a kinect for free if you want! its your choice! like it always is!".

Posted:5 months ago

#4

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
Popular Comment
I would argue none of you hit on the biggest point, which is that the removal of Kinect is a complete surrender of the idea of the Xbox One as a media hub. No one is going to use a media hub with a gamepad, and this is them admitting that no, it's really just another game console, slightly weaker than the PS4, for the same price. It won't revolutionize anything, and they really just want their Xbox 360 fans back.

I'll partially echo Matt though. As a PS4 owner I'm extremely underwhelmed in my first 6 months. Killzone and Knack were downright awful. InFamous: Second Son was good, but no better than its older brothers on the PS3. I've been relatively sated by indie games and multiplats (the most time I've put into my PlayStation 4 was LEGO Marvel Superheroes), but this is not an acceptable first year of releases. The Wii U did MUCH better and received much more ire from gamers and press. Sony needs new games at E3 that are releasing this year, or this will be a very bad holiday for them. In that sense, yes, Microsoft is winning the games race, for now.

Posted:5 months ago

#5

David Howard Editor-in-Chief and Founder, One Hit Pixel

12 19 1.6
Re: Nicholas Pantazis

Valid point about the media hub. Surprising how little the TV functionality is talked about/pushed from Microsoft now.

The Wii U - aside from a trio of good (not great) launch titles - had nothing of real quality until July when Pikmin 3 hit. At least the PS4/XBO had decent multiplatform titles to help with the launch year. If you were expecting anything other than a slow year one then I fail to see why, given that everything to the contrary (history & known releases) confirmed otherwise.

As for "Microsoft is winning the games race", that purely in your opinion as the figures would suggest otherwise. There are around 45 games on XBO compared to 67 on PS4 and, as much as I dislike the metric, the average metacritic on PS4 is four points higher than XBO. Whether or not you've played lots before, dislike those types of games or just weren't that impressed, the opening 7 months so far have been perfectly "acceptable" so far. Could it have been better? Of course, but it's no better on the competition, nor has it ever been.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Howard on 14th May 2014 1:54pm

Posted:5 months ago

#6

Aleksi Ranta Product Manager - Hardware

281 130 0.5
I would argue against this: "No one is going to use a media hub with a gamepad..." as that is exactly how it has been used so far with success in the US, where the media aspects of the 360 are superior to what we have here. Removal of kinect wont make or break that focus?

Posted:5 months ago

#7

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Aleksi No, again, that's just not correct. The 360 was moderately successful as a Netflix box before there were MUCH more options were available like Roku Sticks, Chromecasts, Smart TVs, Fire TV, Smart Blu-rays, etc. but now not nearly so much. There is massive competition in being "A Netflix Box." The Xbox One needed to be an everything box, and it needed to navigate UNIQUELY well to TV, movies, music, and games. Without Kinect, that dream is over. All that's left is something that stands out in no way as special for this purpose, and is arguably even less effective than those options. Considerably so.

Posted:5 months ago

#8

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
You know, I cannot see how people even thought Kinect was going to work, it was a dud since the 360 days. I cant recall one good game made for it. Microsoft brought this on themselves. Even they can see it was a dud. They wanted so badly to attach a ball and chain to there products and in someway justify it. Thats why people got mad. It was nothing more than a DRM and surveillance device. the amount of data that thing could aquire from users was scary. Who in their right mind would want that. Then it ALWAYS had to be online... what the hell for?... Anyway.... glad its gone.

Posted:5 months ago

#9

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ David Using your own metacritic reference by this time in the Wii U's life it had 5 games of "good" quality on Metacritic that weren't available on other platforms (NSMB2, Nintendoland, Zombiu, Lego City Undercover, and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate). By that same measure the PS4 today has just two games (Resogun and inFamous). That said I overestimated the Xbox One, as it also only has two games (Forza 5 and Dead Rising 3). Literally every other PS4 and Xbox One game that scored at least a 75% is playable on other systems.

I'm not saying there aren't more good games on the PS4 than the Wii U had at this time. I'm saying none of them are things you have to own the PS4 to play. And yes, 6 months in, that's a problem. So yeah, I'll adjust my statement. By this time in the Wii U's life, there were more reasons to own it than a PS4 and Xbox One combined (only partly kidding).

Posted:5 months ago

#10

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

322 751 2.3
Does the Xbox One shut down the Kinect (and free up that memory/cpu) if a game doesn't use it? If it's plugged in, doesn't it need to be active to some degree to listen for OS-level commands? So are future X1 games going to say "for best performance, unplug the Kinect"? I don't see MS being too happy about that somehow.

The idea that appreciably more power can be eked out of a fixed, underspecced platform through software tweaks sounds like wishful thinking.

Posted:5 months ago

#11

Mike Wells Writer

62 29 0.5
Kinect is actually a good idea, just not for games. As a controller-less controller for the media hub aspirations of the Xbox it has potential and gives Microsoft a unique proposition ahead of its competitors in that space. The problem was putting it into the box for everyone and making them pay for it. Shoehorning Kinect functionality into games that didn't need it and producing mediocre Kinect-only games in response to the (historical) success of the Wii was a mistake. What would I do now? Position it solely as part of the media-hub proposition and sell it (hard) as an add-on on that basis alone. Don't make any more games for it and dissuade third parties from supporting it in games. And free up the horsepower for where it is needed. And you can improve performance significantly with software tweaks - ask Tesla.

Posted:5 months ago

#12

Jordan Lund Columnist

37 84 2.3
Popular Comment
@Matthew Handrahan - I own both a PS4 and an Xbox One (purchased the former, won the latter in a contest at work) and I have to say I disagree with your assessment. Titanfall is a non-starter for me because it's an online only game. Online is fine as an added component to a game, but it should never be THE game in and of itself. Certainly not at a full $60 price tag. I find I can stomach yet another deathmatch game exactly 1 time then I'm pretty much done with it. Without a single player campaign there's nothing to attract me to the title.

Outside Titanfall, I own Dead Rising 3 which hasn't attracted me long enough to keep playing more than an hour or two and Lego Marvel Super-Heroes which was stellar and sucked me in, but it's multiplatform. I could just as easily have bought the PS4 version but I wanted to have SOMETHING to play on the Xbox One.

On the PS4 side I've played through Knack, Killzone, Assassin's Creed IV and Infamous: Second Son. I still need to wrap up the Paper Trail missions on Infamous. The stand out there was also the multi-platform game, ACIV.

But looking ahead, the key thing for the PS4 is the better performance of the multi-platform games. Watch_Dogs is going to be a PS4 purchase. So is Destiny, which I'll be able to play in beta form here pretty soon. The Xbox One can't even talk about multi-platform games due to under-performing. Hopefully that will change with Kinect out of the picture.

Posted:5 months ago

#13

Richard Browne EVP Gaming and Interactive, Evergreen Studios

108 119 1.1
Popular Comment
Robin - yeah I don't get those comments either, you can't assume that Kinect isn't present so there's no going back to garner additional power reserved for Kinect usage. It's basically the worst of both worlds (especially for Disney/Harmonix and fitness game developers).

But NIcholas is right, what Microsoft has essentially done here is toss away the concept of mass market in the long term in order to get traction in the near term one assumes to avert a complete disaster. At the end of the day though this is step one into packaging it for sale IMHO, and the money that Microsoft has invested in their TV production (again to broaden the market for XBox) you can pretty much guarantee now is not going to be exclusive content for the XBox any more.

People have got to start looking at things beyond just "hardcore gamers", yes that market is all appeased by Microsoft's relentless backtracking - but that market isn't large enough to make a significant difference in the entertainment sphere. Sony is clearly headed in the direction of streaming and away from loss making boxes, one assumes Microsoft will go there too.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Richard Browne on 14th May 2014 5:38pm

Posted:5 months ago

#14

John Cook Senior Partner, Bad Management

29 13 0.4
Not often I would disagree with RB - but on the contrary, I think this *is* MS trying to recapture the "mass market".

As discussed at length before, the question always was, would the coolness of the Kinect deliver enough perceived value to the non-fanboi to be worth an extra $100 (in a less than bubbly economic climate). The results to date (and no doubt some forward looking research) have suggested not.

Respect to MS for reacting - and it's good news for us, at it'll mean a quicker take up of 'next Gen' hardware this year.

Posted:5 months ago

#15

Neil Hall Senior Lecturer in Games Animation, Teesside University

22 16 0.7
Time to put in that 3D bluray upgrade, please, Mr. 'soft.

Posted:5 months ago

#16

Richard Browne EVP Gaming and Interactive, Evergreen Studios

108 119 1.1
JC - what's mass market? The console market? Not even remotely.

Posted:5 months ago

#17

Jason Alexander Level Designer

7 6 0.9
Contrary to how people have responded to the news, the Kinect bundle is not going away, lol. A new sku is being added, it's not replacing the existing one. And since an unbundled Kinect will likely cost more than buying the one with it included, there is still value for people that want a voice controls/xbox fitness/kinect sports/etc. box.

They're basically making everything like the Xbox 360 again (as with a lot of their 180's), where there were Arcade/Premium/4GB/250GB/Kinect/non-Kinect skus.

But, they obviously needed to compete on price badly, so this type of move was needed, since a lot of people don't want a voice control/xbox fitness/kinect sports/etc box. So now all their ads can say "starting at 399", similar to how the 360 launch could say "starting at 299" due to the non-standard hard drive. That said, I don't foresee Kinect features going away or anything, so I don't know why any early adopter would be mad. All the dashboard features still work, which is where most people probably get the majority of use out of it now, and there will be some games for it, just not as many as there would be if it was a runaway success. But if it stayed bundled, and no one bought the Xbox One due to its price, that wouldn't help Kinect development either.

The hard drive was technically non-standard last generation, and though there were some development quirks due to that, it was still obviously a better system with a hard drive. The Kinect was non-standard as well, and it still got support and sold millions of units. Again, obviously not as good as 70-80 million units, but it's still a decent sized audience. And the Xbox One is still much better and feature complete with Kinect than without, even if no other game ever came out for it. But now people can decide for themselves if it's $100 better.

Posted:5 months ago

#18

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
@RB the problem is XB1 is not a great media hub, certainly nowhere near a $399/$499 value media device, especially outside the USA The Kinect as a super remote control, been saying that's exactly what it is for months, but the $100 remote market isn't big enough.

It's a device so overpriced for the role, so power gobbling, so damn noisy when on that the 'mass market' you're talking about aren't interested. The truth is they always needed the gamers to get XB1 deployed to places where non-gamers (that mass market) could be sold too. Dropping Kinect acknowledges the underlying reality that the people they need to buy XB1 don't much care for Kinect. If MS really want the mass market they need a cheaper device that competes with Roku, Amazons box or the free boxes many of us have with our media subscriptions.

Posted:5 months ago

#19

Neow Shau Jin Studying Bachelor in Computer Science, Universiti Sains Malaysia

52 81 1.6
@Nicholas

I was just come off a discussion with a colleague yesterday about how he wanted the PS4 for the exclusives but can't justified buying a console for just a couple of games, there is one thing to note here, he got a very powerful gaming PC(one he upgraded last year for Battlefield 4, which is the only thing he play so far). So his PC can be used to play all the multiplatform games, that gives him a different perspective than me, whose PC spec only scratches Titanfall's bare minimum requirement. For me, buying a PS4 allows me to enjoy all the latest multiplatform games and exclusives, while for him, there is only the exclusives, which is not much right now.

I believe you are in the same perspective as my colleague, which doesn't helped by we having a slow season now when it comes to AAA releases, this dreaded Summer Drought every year when things makes way for Hollywood and outdoor activities.

Posted:5 months ago

#20

Richard Browne EVP Gaming and Interactive, Evergreen Studios

108 119 1.1
@ PS - oh I agree, the only way to garner the mass market was to do things with the machine and Kinect that couldn't be achieved elsewhere and show it off. As with Nintendo and their Gamepad, Microsoft failed spectacularly to do so.

Posted:5 months ago

#21
Lots of insightful comments here, from the original piece all the way through.

One thing that occurred to me while reading was that it seems that Microsoft marketing was overly aware of their own coffers. The strategy to increase production costs with per force addon equipment, thus driving up end-point pricing, seems illogical in our current financial climate: unless you label the process "futures manufacturing" and are able to draw a major competitor into spending what it doesn't have the capitol to spend.

If this was the case, Sony "austerity" looks like a wise course now, as Microsoft backs away from it's own clairvoyance.

At any rate, as a PC gamer with both Xbox360 and PS3 to satisfy my streaming needs, more so the latter, I'm still waiting to buy either of the new consoles as there is nothing I'm overly interested in playing at this time. To me, one single game on either system is still $460 away.

Posted:5 months ago

#22

Aleksi Ranta Product Manager - Hardware

281 130 0.5
@Nicholas " The Xbox One needed to be an everything box, and it needed to navigate UNIQUELY well to TV, movies, music, and games. Without Kinect, that dream is over. All that's left is something that stands out in no way as special for this purpose, and is arguably even less effective than those options. Considerably so."

So what you are basically saying is that by giving consumers the choice to buy or not to buy kinect, rather than forcing it with every console, is now the killer? If the kinect is as needed as you say to differenciate in the everything box category, consumers certainly for the most part didnt think so. And if/when they do, it will still be there...but this time as an option. I dont see this as being in anyway a problem for the mass market....

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Aleksi Ranta on 15th May 2014 2:57pm

Posted:5 months ago

#23

David Serrano Freelancer

300 272 0.9
... and that should make a huge difference to consumers and developers who should be able to use more of the Xbox One's graphical processing power. Let's face it, the Kinect was the ugly albatross hanging around Xbox One's neck, and now that it's been cut loose Xbox One will have the unrestricted wiggle room it needs to flex its own muscle. Although a proper technical analysis would be better left to technical minds like Rich Leadbetter at Gamer Network's Digital Foundry, my hope is that we'll see far fewer stories about frame rate or resolution discrepancies between PS4 and Xbox One going forward.
But since there are already 5 million or more units in circulation, won't this force developers to publish "system requirements" for future games? Or does Microsoft just plan on telling everyone who has a Kinect to disconnect it before playing games? Because if future games are developed to use the processing power currently reserved for Kinect, odds are those games won't run properly (or at all) if Kinect is plugged in. It seems like this would complicate matters for developers for years to come.

Posted:5 months ago

#24

Jason Alexander Level Designer

7 6 0.9
I imagine it's not too difficult to turn off Kinect game processing through code, without a user having to do anything. I don't think any of the "extra power due to limited Kinect processing" will require the user to do anything.

After all, users may very well still want to use OS-level Kinect functions, which might have nothing to do with the specific game that's running, and those will likely always be there, no matter what.

Posted:5 months ago

#25

Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University

436 496 1.1
Personally I don't think it's a game changer in and of itself, but it's more of a sign of the lengths Microsoft are going to go through to avoid being left behind by PS4 even at this early stage. Only three months ago Kinect was being touted as an essential part of the experience, now it's completely optional and will be peripheral to the demands of developing on Xbox One. It's an important sign that Microsoft are going to stand by Xbox One and turn it into a success, even if the future of the Xbox business in the long-term could be questioned. If Microsoft are willing to drop the core concept of their initial Xbox One pitch, I don't think we can question their current commitment to their only successful entertainment brand and device.

There's been a tendency already to assume that Sony are going to steam roller Microsoft and run out clear ahead, or at least that Sony aren't going to lose their leadership position. The machines have been out a matter of months, yet Xbox One's roadmap laid out at E3 last year has been torn to pieces. They are a formidable rival for Sony, and if Microsoft can do more to convince their 360 users to upgrade (including myself), they could start to gain serious momentum. The promise of technically better multi-platform games won't be an ace in the hole for Sony, either; I doubt that arguments of 1080p/60fps will count for much with the mass-market at Christmas, and neither will indie games. Pricing, marketing and exclusive big-name brands will do more. Crucially, Microsoft have the pockets to absorb price cuts and bring on board more exclusive dlc, marketing and software support.

Sony as a corporation--despite the strengths of the PlayStation home console business (it would be wrong to suggest the entire PlayStation business is strong with Vita's figures looking so poor)--are fighting fires across the board in a way Microsoft (for all the challenges they face) are not. Sony have just posted a billion dollar loss, and will post another half-billion dollar loss next year; Sony will not have the pockets to match Microsoft in bidding or price cut wars. In fact, I almost feel Sony have played many of their more aggressive moves before launch, where they cleverly anticipated and wrongfooted Microsoft's every step. Yet now Microsoft are regaining their ground, and I think they have more aggressive moves ready to play, particularly in comparison with what Sony have this year.

If there's one other important lesson to learn from the hardware launched so far this generation, it's that the players still playing in the console industry, across handheld and home consoles, are favouring conservatism over experimentation. The failure of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft to justify the differential factors of devices like Wii U, Vita and Kinect has left those devices either struggling by the wayside, or being largely abandoned. The most successful pieces of hardware on the market right now--3DS and PS4--are also the most conservative; largely incremental, straightforward improvements over their predecessors. I think the theme for both PS4 and Xbox One at this E3 will be familiar ideas and familiar brands; Gran Turismo, Halo, Call of Duty, Batman, Assassin's Creed; the open-world games, the FPSes, will rule the roost. Isn't that a little concerning for us all? In the midst of the greatest upheaval in gaming for thirty years, is console conservatism the right way to respond? It's a challenge for all three manufacturers and every major publisher in the years ahead, I think. Maybe Destiny will shine a light for a new type of blockbuster FPS experience? There are interesting battles to come, that's for sure.

Posted:5 months ago

#26

Craig Page Programmer

384 220 0.6
Why would anyone buy the $399 version when for $100 more they can get the bundle with Titanfall and Kinect?

Posted:5 months ago

#27

Techni Myoko Programmer

43 81 1.9
Slightly? The GPU is 50% weaker and the system 33% overall

Posted:5 months ago

#28

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