As promised, Microsoft is now offering a version of its Xbox One console without Kinect. The new bundle is available for $399.99/ £349.99 from Microsoft’s website and a similar configuration is expected to be sold in other markets later today.
Microsoft’s decision to make its next-generation Kinect – a high-resolution camera that can track the player’s body and identify voice commands – an optional part of the system is quite controversial. Unbundling the two means the console is now the same price as Sony’s PlayStation 4 – a system that has gained a sizeable sales lead over Microsoft’s offering.
But taking the Kinect out would likely have angered some players who picked up the Xbox One early and missed out on this cheaper option. It also discourages developers from creating games for the Kinect – before this, Microsoft could guarantee its entire install base as a potential market, but now that’s not the case. With a smaller audience to target, developers are more likely to build a “traditional” experience that can be ported to rival platforms.
Nevertheless, giving players the option to buy a Kinect-free Xbox One should win Microsoft some support. Most of its biggest “core” games, such as Forza 5 and Titanfall, don’t require the Kinect. With a cheaper configuration, more customers can now buy into the platform and further its momentum.