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Kinect costs "almost as much" as Xbox One to make, says dev

Microsoft employee opens up in Reddit AMA

A Reddit 'Ask me anything' session with someone claiming to be an App developer working on the Xbox One has revealed a great deal about the internal perception of the console's reception so far, as well as some more concrete facts about the machine.

Although the questions were answered under conditions of anonymity, the developer offered enough proof to Reddit moderators to be 'verified' as a genuine Xbox One employee. The exchange, which allows any Reddit user to post questions, took place on Saturday July 13. Previous AMAs have involved Barack Obama, Louis CK and Aisha Taylor, the actress and voicework specialist who presented Ubisoft's E3 conference.

In the AMA on Xbox One the mystery developer answered questions on a broad-range of subjects including hardware, Kinect, digital sharing and the confused nature of the early marketing messages surrounding the machine's launch. One of the most black and white pieces of information revealed is that the Kinect sensor, a compulsory piece of hardware for the One, is almost as expensive to produce as the console itself.

"The majority of the masses care only about the console, except that the success of the Kinect carries much more weight to us. The sensor costs almost as much as the console to make."

Asked what the most under-appreciated or little known about selling point of the One was, the developer replied that Kinect was seen as extremely important internally, and for good reason.

"The majority of the masses care only about the console," they wrote. "Except that the success of the Kinect carries much more weight to us. The sensor costs almost as much as the console to make.

"The goal with having a Kinect ship with every Xbox is to guarantee to game developers if they implement Kinect features into their games, everyone who has an Xbox will be able to experience it. I often see people dismiss the Kinect instantly because they haven't seen it work like I have. It is an integral part of the Xbox One experience."

There was also a clear indication that there's a considerable degree of regret about the reversal of the company's DRM policies within the Redmond offices, with the contributor expressing disappointment at the removal of digital sharing options, particularly.

"Personally I was a little surprised at the timeframe which we decided on the DRM reversal," they write. "I thought we didn't push on its benefits enough. The petition shows there are lots of people who want these benefits as much as I do and clearly our execs care or Marc Whitten wouldn't have referred to it in his IGN interview.

"It was for full games," was the answer when asked for clarification on digital sharing. "Can't comment too much on this but its purpose was to eliminate the need to ever have to physically hand someone a game that you bought to share with them."

Asked to detail the team's thoughts about the less than glowing public reception to the details on DRM and check-in which followed E3, the developer was surprisingly frank.

"One of our execs had mentioned a Sony dev came up to him at E3 and told him 'you won the games, we won the gamers."

"My purpose here is not to reveal technical information but to show you that us devs are consumers too. Some of the policies we too only heard the day of the reveal or at E3. We too, ponder about their pros and cons. I can tell you we have heated discussions on our policies all the time internally. Engineering practices have taught us there are always trade offs. We lay out all the benefits of different policies and figure out what we have to give up in order to obtain those benefits.

"The positive comments we read make us happy. The negatives give us the impression that we are evil and the Xbox One might as well be the Troll box. I have confidence in our management that all their decisions are always well debated before they come to a plan of action."

One final insight came from a question about the perception on the ground at E3 after the Sony conference, during which the Japanese manufacturer took great pains to highlight a complete lack of DRM on second-hand sales.

"It was quite moot," came the reply. "One of our execs had mentioned a Sony dev came up to him at E3 and told him 'you won the games, we won the gamers.'"

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