Microsoft is reversing course once again. After changing its policies to allow Xbox One to function without an always-on internet connection, and remove restriction on used-games, Microsoft today revealed that the once-mandatory Kinect functionality is no longer required.
Speaking to IGN, Microsoft’s Xbox Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten said that while Kinect is still an integral part of the system, users can access Xbox One’s features without having to plug in the Kinect sensor.
“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.
Whitten also addressed privacy concerns over Kinect, saying that the sensor can be turned off completely by the user if they wish to do so.
“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.”
Microsoft’s yet another policy reversal may come as a welcome addition to those that feared that use of Kinect might be forced onto themselves, and onto game developers that may or may not wish to use it. But it also breeds the discussion that Microsoft may very well sell the Xbox One without a Kinect sensor in order to match PlayStation 4′s competitive pricing of $399, a good $100 less than Xbox One’s hefty $499 tag.
However, Microsoft is maintaining that no such plans are in the works (so far at least) and that Kinect will remain an important of the system and will be used to build experiences using its superior voice-and-gesturing-sensing abilities.
“Though we’ve changed this requirement, Kinect is still an essential and integrated part of the Xbox One platform. By having it as a consistent part of every Xbox One, game and entertainment creators can build experiences that assume the availability of voice, gesture and natural sensing, leading to unrivaled ease of use, premium experiences and interactivity for consumers. We also strongly believe that once you try the all-new Kinect and the game and entertainment experiences it enhances or enables, you won’t want to use your Xbox One without it,” a Microsoft spokesman told Kotaku.
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