Yet another change in policy for Microsoft’s Xbox One console today, as the company has now confirmed the console will indeed work without the new Kinect sensor plugged in, an accessory that until now was reffered to as a mandatory feature of the console.
Microsoft’s Marc Whitten, Chief Xbox One Platform Architect, when quizzed by IGN over the Kinect stated that:
“Like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in(emphasis mine – ed.), although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.”
Microsoft senior exec Albert Penello, posting to NeoGAF, explained the reasoning behind the change of heart over Kinect. “The thing we all understood, and hence this change, is that there are some scenarios where people just may not be comfortable,” he said.
“We wanted people to be 100 per cent comfortable, so we allow the sensor to be unplugged.”
According to Whitten, using the console without the Kinect plugged in however is a sub-optimal experience:
“Xbox One is designed to work with Kinect plugged in. It makes gaming better in many ways – from the ability to say “Xbox On” and get right to your personalized homescreen, to the ability to control your TV through voice, Smartglass and more. Kinect allows you to search for your content, instantly move between games and your personalized dash and more with just your voice. Kinect helps you pick up and play by automatically knowing which controller you have in your hands.
“No more need to interrupt your friends game or navigate through multiple UI screens to sign in and tell the system which controller you are holding. It will even bind the controller to the console if its currently unbound – no searching for special buttons! Of course – these are just a few of the system wide benefits of having Kinect. Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay.”
Whitten also clarified how “off” the Kinect sensor can be when plugged in:
“You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.”
The Kinect 180 is the latest in a series of changes that Microsoft have made to the Xbox One since its release. Firstly, the company altered the machine’s always online requirements and made it simpler to trade used games, and then, following further consumer pressure, recently agreed to pop a chat headset in the box with the console too.