Microsoft has revealed that the removal of the Kinect 2.0 sensor from the standard Xbox One package could mean a better performance for games, as the console no longer has to allocate portions of its CPU or GPU to the always-on sensor.The Xbox One was revealed to the world last year and Microsoft emphasized straight from the beginning that the new and improved Kinect 2.0 sensor was an integral part of its next-gen gaming vision.
However, in practice, the new peripheral didn't work that well, as it still had issues with detecting voice commands or gestures. As such, not a lot of gamers saw value in it, while the costly sensor also drove the price of the Xbox One to 499 USD/EUR, higher than that of the 399 USD/EUR of the PS4.
Microsoft revealed earlier this week that it was dropping the mandatory Kinect sensor from the bundle and would sell, starting on June 9, a 399 USD/EUR Xbox One package.
The company's marketing boss, Yusuf Mehdi, has emphasized to Polygon that the Redmond giant is still committed to the Kinect for Xbox One experience, despite the change in strategy.
"We remain deeply committed to the Kinect as a core component of a next-generation console," he said. "We think that the bio-metric sign-in, voice controls of the menu, ability to say 'record that' and capture a moment of gameplay are all critical to the experience. We have never wavered from that since the launch."
"Our view is that the Xbox One with Kinect is the premium experience. The things you are able to do are pretty magical. I think that (early adopters) are hopefully delighted as well with their usage."
Mehdi has also emphasized that the decision was made with feedback from developers, who want a bigger install base for the Xbox One.
"We have been working with our developers and game publisher partners for awhile trying to balance two goals," he said. "One is the accessibility of the Kinect and the other is the desire for customers to onboard to Xbox One. They want both, a large audience of users and the best features. We feel this vision is balance the best of those goals."
Last but not least, Mehdi has revealed that the removal of the mandatory Kinect might mean that the portions of the CPU and GPU allocated to the sensor can be freed up for games to take advantage of. However, he played coy and mentioned that "We are in discussions with our game publishers about what we might do in this space and we will have more to talk about soon."
Microsoft has already promised big announcements for E3 2014 next month, so stay tuned for more reveals.