What an odd day for the Xbox One. Although the console itself is region-free, Microsoft director of product planning Albert Penello confirmed on NeoGAF that the voice commands for the Xbox One will be region locked.
In response to a question about whether or not one could change the language to English for UI and voice commands for a console set in the German Xbox marketplace, Penello responded with, “Voice is locked to the region. So no, unfortunately.”
While it does not mean that you cannot buy an Xbox One outside of your region when it launches worldwide this November 22nd, it does mean that whatever region you buy from will take precedence of language and voice cadence to that region when it comes to voice commands. When it comes to setting up UI text language, it still appears as though you can enter whatever launch country that supports the language you want. However, if you put up that you speak English the only available countries are the US, UK, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Ireland.
That said, there are 13 countries in which the Xbox One will launch this Friday. There are an unknown amount of people around the world who plan on importing the Xbox One from a region closest to them that will now be missing out on Kinect voice commands for their console because they could not speak that country’s native language(s). As well, depending on which EU country you could import from, setting the marketplace to a country which native language you could speak will render certain gift cards unusable, making online purchases that much more difficult. Especially when Microsoft haven’t said which countries support what languages and commands at launch in full detail.
All this does is create more and more problems that Microsoft has to deal with in the interim. In addition to getting Twitch livestreaming to work worldwide, adding TV-to-Kinect support to work outside the US and Japan launches and now language support to work beyond your console’s home marketplace language for voice commands (among others), it seems like new console owners will continue to be caught off guard with just how much the newest 8th generation console will do at launch. The same goes for the PS4, but with the Kinect being such an important part of the Xbox One in Microsoft’s eyes, we will see how much of a mark this downside will leave.
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