Kinect No Longer Needed for Xbox One to Function

The number of backflips Microsoft makes with their new pride and joy, Xbox One, continues to climb. It’ll be interesting to see just how vastly different the end product will be by the time it goes on sale this coming holiday season.

Microsoft’s Marc Whitten revealed in an interview with IGN today that the Xbox One console will not, I repeat, NOT need the Kinect sensor to be connected for it to run all core functions. This latest hardware update comes on the heels of their June announcement, which declared that the system would not restrict used games, and it would not require an internet connection to use. One by one, the original features of the console are being nixed, but Microsoft remains confident that these decisions won’t negatively affect sales.

The whole situation is a double-edged sword, because while these new choices are well in favor of the gamers (as it should be), it still paints a picture of skepticism in Microsoft’s overall ability to read the wants and needs of their fanbase. When the console first debuted back in May, many people everywhere were baffled when they stated with a smile that they would need to “check in” online once every 24 hours to continue using the console. Not only that, you’d have to have your trusty Kinect sensor on at all times, which can read some aspects your body better than any hospital x-ray machine! Whether or not this sparks privacy issues, we couldn’t deny that feature alone was downright bizarre.

But now, a few months later, the Xbox One is making a whole lot of new promises to its buyers, ones relatively more attractive. How it’ll affect Christmas sales remains to be seen, but this newest update seems a step in the right direction. Whitten assured that the Kinect sensor could remain completely off if the player so wishes.

“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.”

So there you have it. Save for games that use Kinect as their primary medium of functionality, you can even keep Kinect off while playing games that do have some Kinect-related options. It’s a complete 180 from before. Perhaps they should call it Xbox 180 instead.

Despite these new liberties, however, Microsoft remains adamant that buying a Kinect with the console will still be necessary. A Microsoft spokesperson replied to inquiries sent by Kotaku:

“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.”

In other words, you have to buy it whether you like it or not. Even if you never play a Kinect game in your life. I personally never was one for sensors like Kinect and PS’s “Move”, but if you are, at least this will promise you a little more wiggle room (good pun or no?) in terms of its usage.

What are your thoughts on this newest announcement from Microsoft’s execs?