Score another one for those who suspected Microsoft might be systematically walking back every bold promise it made during its announcement of Xbox One. First the company dumped its mandatory game trade-ins, next was its decision to not include a headset out of the box. Now, Microsoft is saying that it won’t require users to have the Kinect Sensor plugged in for the device to function.
The revelation came in a question and answer session on gaming news outlet IGN with Xbox One head Marc Whitten, being asked about what users are expected to do in the event that their system’s Kinect sensor breaks.
According to Whitten, “Xbox One is designed to work with Kinect plugged in. It makes gaming better in many ways – from the ability to say “Xbox On” and get right to your personalized homescreen, to the ability to control your TV through voice, Smartglass and more. Kinect allows you to search for your content, instantly move between games and your personalized dash and more with just your voice. Kinect helps you pick up and play by automatically knowing which controller you have in your hands. No more need to interrupt your friends game or navigate through multiple UI screens to sign in and tell the system which controller you are holding. It will even bind the controller to the console if its currently unbound – no searching for special buttons! Of course – these are just a few of the system wide benefits of having Kinect. Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. 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.”
It’s that last sentence that really clinches the deal, as the company had said that it would require the Kinect Sensor to be plugged in. We’d speculated that the company had made the decision so that game developers could make Kinect functionality more ubiquitous in their games.
We’ve emailed Microsoft requesting a statement on why the change was made. We’ll update this post if and when we receive anything back from them.
The Xbox One is expected to launch sometime this November.