Microsoft initiated another astonishing gaming u-turn this week, revealing a plan to sell a new Xbox One bundle without its previously required Kinect motion sensor.
It was quite a shock move to say the least, as the tech giant has spent the best part of the last year explaining how being able to control your telly and games machine with your voice and arms is the Next Big Thing and that Xbox One is nothing more than an oversized empty ice cream tub sitting under your TV without it.
But not any more.
The move to introduce an Xbox One bundle without Kinect meant that, all of a sudden, loads of people seem to actually like Kinect. Plenty of gaming sites have been running editorials along the lines of "Wow, how sad Microsoft's dumped its grand vision," expressing their disgust that Xbox One is now just a normal games box.
Even though that's what they wanted and got tattoos demanding last winter.
But that's not the opinion of Guardian commenter Vagues, who had an anecdote that neatly summarises the everyday gamer's experience of Kinect on the old Xbox 360, saying: "I still play my 360 regularly, but I moved house recently and found Kinect had fallen off the TV unit, down the back. It had probably been there about a year. I asked a friend if they wanted it for free, they said no so I chucked it in the bin."
The bin then vomited it out on the pavement, saying it'd rather have some gone-off fish.
A little further down the Guardian thread reader Grotesque had a warning for anyone planning their next-next-generation console shopping spree in 2021 or thereabouts, saying: "Well this certainly rockets into the top five for historic reasons why not to buy a console on launch day."
Over on Cnet, the thinking from FishingTimes is that Kinect wasn't dumped due to public disinterest and the cumulative tonnes of dust the devices are gathering around the planet, but to help Microsoft compete with Sony on price terms. He said: "This is Microsoft giving up, not due to the consumer wanting it, but because the consumer didn't buy the system. Sony has such a huge lead right now that Microsoft has entered desperation mode to compete. Which is sad because it now limits the devs who used to know that they could make games utilizing the Kinect, knowing every XBOX One owner would have it."
And Berock2122 is sticking with his DIY gaming "rig" despite the cheaper Xbox One option, saying: "The whole idea of a console is a bad one. You spend good money on hardware that is only designed to do one good thing even though it has the potential to do millions of things. That's why PC gaming is the best. But I think that Microsoft is taking a step in the right direction while the PS4 is failing. At least the Xbox one is making an attempt to be more than just a one function console that only plays games."
To which Spanky4242 replied: "The only console failing is the Wii U because they [Nintendo] bought into the tablet rhetoric about how console gaming will be dropping off. The sales of the XB1 and PS4 say that's simply not the case."
On The Register, reader H4rm0ny (very secure name you have there) thinks MS should've followed through to completion with its webcam dream, saying: "I think it's another stupid move. The big advantage of the Kinect is that everyone has one - meaning game developers aren't giving up money by making use of it. Also, it's a key part of the plan to make XBox a popular home media centre. MS backtracking on this is a desperate move to try and boost sales and pacify critics. But it won't work. All it will do is shoot themselves in the foot."
He continued raging with: "MS keeps doing this - come up with something really cool and then blink as soon as a bunch of angry people start forum posting."
Reader Fibbles replied with his own take on the Kinect development scene, suggesting: "That strategy made sense when the console was first released but since then Microsoft has learned two new things; (1) Developers don't want to make games for the Kinect, (2) Those who have produced Kinect games have found the market to be very small."
We want buttons, basically. Unless it's a game we play on our phones while these monstrous home things are taking hours to install to their hard drives, in which case vague, sometimes-not-recognised motion input is fine.
Fandom access memory
Eurogamer published a staggeringly detailed analysis of what ditching mandatory Kinect support from the Xbox One hardware spec may mean for the games of the future. Underneath this the conversation turned to how freeing the processing power reserved for sending photos of your game face to the NSA may lead to "better" games.
Reader Carpetfluff sighed publicly at this notion, saying: "So people with one would start having to unplug them for the benefit? What a mess. I can just see the fanboy arguments now; 'Yeah, but it runs 2% better if I unplug my camera'... sigh."
Meanwhile, commenter Thunderbolt misses the pioneering days of late 2013 when it seemed like the button was on its way out, saying of the passing of Kinect: "It's disappointing for me from a technical perspective. Akin to the retiring of the Concorde. Great tech that never found its place in the world."
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