Microsoft have changed their minds regarding the Xbox One again – this is the third time if you’re keeping count. You won’t need Kinect plugged in to use the Xbox One anymore.
First they removed the online check in requirement, then after they announced that no Xbox One console would include a wired headset and received a ton of backlash for it, they changed their minds on that and decided to include one with every console.
Now they’ve flipped on the controversial decision which required the Kinect sensor to be connected and powered on at all times whether you were playing a Kinect based game or not.
In an interview with IGN, Marc Whitten from Microsoft stated that the Xbox One will work without Kinect.
“That said, 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,” he said
Every Xbox One will still ship with a Kinect sensor however, and Microsoft have no plans (at least right now) to release a cheaper Xbox One bundle without Kinect.
Whitten also tried to ease any privacy concerns that users may have (having an always on microphone and camera isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, that’s fair).
“You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.”
In a detailed response to the topic on NeoGAF, Microsoft exec Albert Penello had a lot to say on the matter:
We still believe in Kinect. We aren’t interested in splitting the development base. The more demos I’ve seen, the more I’ve used it – the more impressed I am. The team feels strongly about Kinect, and I hope we’re able to prove that when you use it.
We also have a ton of privacy settings to allow people to turn off the camera, or microphones, or put it in a state just for “Xbox On” and IR blasting – there will be a lot of user control for that.
The thing we all understood, and hence this change, is that there are some scenarios where people just may not be comfortable. We wanted people to be 100% comfortable, so we allow the sensor to be unplugged. And clearly the “it dropped” scenario is possible.
The most obvious thing is watching a DVD/BD, or streaming a movie, or HDMI pass-through, your experience isn’t impacted (except you miss voice and IR blasting)
There is no “gotcha”, but obviously, if there is a game that REQUIRES Kinect (like Rivals), or something where Kinect IS the experience (like Skype), those won’t work.
That said, for people who have privacy concerns there are user control settings, which we believe are great.
I’m almost tempted to start taking bets on what Microsoft will change next, and with another two months to go, there’s plenty of time for them to think of something.