According to the executive of Xbox Phil Spencer, Microsoft has no plans to give up on their Kinect technology. In an interview, Spencer said that the company keeps on working on optimizing the Kinect technology. Nevertheless, the onus will be on developers and consumers to utilize Kinect as Microsoft keeps evolving the possibilities for its development.
This means that developers should vote with the time they devote to Kinect projects, and customers should vote with their wallets. It wasn’t working this way until Microsoft started offering notably cheaper Xbox One bundles without Kinect dead weight that Xbox units started outselling units for PS4.
Kinect is being sold separately for $149.99, compared to the Sony’s $59.99 camera for PS4, used for camera doodad aficionados. Having in mind that the original Xbox One bundle cost $500, and the version without the Kinect costs $399, does it mean that Microsoft is trying to charge a $50 premium so that consumers will do them the favor of buying a technology consumers so adamantly didn’t want that Xbox One sales didn’t pick up until Microsoft took the Kinect out?
Regarding Kinect, Spencer stated:
“It’s not abandoned. We just developed Upload Studio 2.0, which has green screening that you can do with Kinect. We’ll continue to build functionality to make it a valuable part of the ecosystem. That said, price point’s really important for the console – we saw that over the holidays in the UK and US, where we did well when we dropped the price, which was great. And I want to make sure consumers have choice on how much they value the functionality of Kinect when they buy a console. If you want to go buy a Kinect console [bundle], then they’re still available.”
If the future of the Kinect is really in the hands of consumers, it seems like consumers have already spoken. Spencer added: “[Kinect’s] place will be earned through the experiences that are out there and the developers that show interest. We will continue to build functionality through voice and using the RGB and depth cameras, and we’ll stay focused on that, but giving the consumers choice is pretty critical.”
So, in case Kinect is largely option for most games on the market, then in Spencer’s own words, “there’s not really a scenario that says, ‘Hey, I need a Kinect.’” There are certainly, as Spencer pointed out, “genres where Kinect works really well,” like family and party games. Nevertheless, those developers have not made the Kinect a mandatory part of enjoying those games. And if developers were to do so, they would lock themselves out of the part of the substantial slice of the market that opted out of the Kinect experience.
Still, there is plenty of interesting research and technology applications to the Kinect, however, the Kinect doesn’t need to be bundled with the Xbox One for that work to continue. Thus, the lip service to consumer choice seems to be just lip service, nothing else.