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Microsoft discontinues Kinect

Depth-sensing Xbox camera shelved after seven years and 35 million units sold

The Kinect's obituaries were written years ago, but the Xbox depth-sensing camera was technically alive until very recently. Microsoft technical fellow Alex Kipman and GM of Xbox devices marketing Matthew Lapsen confirmed for Co.Design that the Kinect has been discontinued.

Microsoft will continue to offer customer support for Kinect, but it has stopped producing the camera peripheral for the Xbox One. It halted production of the Kinect for Windows version of the hardware in 2015, opting to instead sell an adapter that would allow users to connect the Xbox One version of the hardware to a PC.

The Kinect launched for the Xbox 360 in 2010, and Co.Design reports that it sold around 35 million units over its lifetime. More than half those sales (about 19 million) came from the peripheral's first year and a half of availability on the Xbox 360.

The initial success of the camera was enough to convince Microsoft to bundle an updated version of it with every Xbox One, going so far as to build its user interface around the Kinect's voice command features. However, after the Xbox One was outsold handily by the PlayStation 4 at launch, Microsoft pulled the Kinect out of the hardware bundle and sold it separately. That allowed the company to match the price point of its main competitor, but eliminated one of the reasons Xbox One developers had to support the camera: the assurance that every player would have a Kinect.

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Latest comments (5)

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A year ago
And itís sad. Amazon hired away the team and made Echo, and without a legion of Sony fanboys, paranoids, and irrational haters thrashing it, itís a giant Best seller. It does EXACTLY what Kinect was going to do. Kinect was quite a bit cheaper to
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Jordan Lund Columnist A year ago
@Jeff - the problem is that it never really worked well as a game interface. It does work well as an assistant interface.

If they had managed the fine motor control that, say, Steel Battalion required it could have been huge, but it failed at that and never recovered.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser A year ago
While both versions of Kinect had their issues it was really good for certain types of games but only certain types of games. I still use mine for my workouts thru various exercise games. The main problem was of course it's accuracy was never anywhere near 100% in either gesture or speech recognition.

Still, I'll repeat what I said all those years ago: when they dropped the XBO down $100 to match the PS4's $400 price point they should have kept the kinect attached instead of de-bundling it. As long as people were allowed to unplug it or turn it off seperatly from their Xbox One it wouldn't have been a problem.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing A year ago
Kinect now serves as the gravest of warnings to VR. 35 million units sold and an unceremonious death due to lack of ongoing interest to develop software.
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John Bye Lead Designer, FreejamA year ago
Amazon hired away the team and made Echo, and without a legion of Sony fanboys, paranoids, and irrational haters thrashing it, itís a giant Best seller. It does EXACTLY what Kinect was going to do
Kinect's fate had nothing to do with "Sony fanboys and irrational haters", or "paranoids" worried about it spying on them. It failed because the first model didn't work anywhere near as well as it was supposed to (not helped by the ridiculous expectations raised by blatant fakery like Project Milo) and (apart from a couple of fitness and dancing games) nobody really found a good use for it.

Reviews for Kinect software were almost universally bad, and there were very few games that really appealed to the Xbox's core gamer demographic. The ones that tried either didn't work (like Steel Battalion), got canned (like Gears of War: Exile), or gave up and switched to using a normal controller (like Crimson Dragon).

It didn't help that Microsoft initially insisted that developers use Kinect exclusively, rather than letting them use it to enhance controller-based games, and couldn't or wouldn't make it work for people sitting down until well after launch. All of which restricted how useful it was for core games, and resulted in some horrifically bad UI navigation.

The fact that you're comparing a gaming device with a 3D camera and infrared sensor to a home speaker with a built-in mic pretty much sums it up. What's the point of all those sensors if all you're going to use it for is voice control? Being able to shout "fus-ro-dah" at Skyrim was nice. But that probably could have worked with a $5 headset.
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