Yesterday's announcement that Microsoft will begin selling a version of the Xbox One that doesn't include a Kinect sensor was welcomed by many. But there are some for whom the news was decidedly bad, as it now makes the prospect of creating an original game for Kinect that much more difficult.
In an interview with Develop, Paul Mottram, studio head of Zoë Mode (maker of the Zumba Fitness games, which use Kinect on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One) reflected on Microsoft's decision to stop bundling Kinect with every Xbox One. While he seemed to understand why it was done, he expressed concern over what it means for some developers.
"From a developer point of view it's a shame, as it all but kills the chances of making an original Kinect title unless it is a major licensed Fitness or Dance product – and even those will suffer as it's unlikely we'll see Kinect 2 units even come close to the installed base of the original now," he said. "Even then it was a challenge.
"I just feel sorry for those developers who had Kinect titles in development who’ve had the rug pulled from beneath them and may now stand little chance of seeing a return on their investment," he continued.
Harmonix is among the companies with Kinect games in development; it's working on Fantasia and may also have a new Dance Central coming, if a mention of the game by Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi means anything. While the developer publicly expressed enthusiasm over the Kinect announcement, individual employees were less enthused. (On the other hand, Peter Molyneux, who considered its inclusion a "joke," is likely very happy right now.)
Mottram went on to say he hopes developers, perhaps independent ones through the ID@Xbox program, find some "killer use for Kinect that will change the minds of the doubters." He added, "[S]maller developers may try something new with the peripheral that mainstream publishers would were not willing to gamble on."
He also suggested the possibility that the PlayStation 4's camera could see "a surge in demand" in the future as gamers desire a way to use the PlayStation Move (which requires the camera) with Sony's in-development VR system, Project Morpheus.
The new Xbox One system without Kinect goes on sale on June 9 for $400. Microsoft claims this strategy of offering a Kinect-less system will result in more Kinect sales overall.