Xbox One: To Kinect, Or Not To Kinect, That Is The Question


As the holiday season approaches, retailers are inundating us with ads of numerous new console bundles in hopes of capturing everyone’s different penchants in gaming. Whether it be FPS gamers with Call of Duty, or Sunset Overdrive bundles, or the sports enthusiasts Madden 15 bundle, Microsoft is tailoring them for just about everyone. One thing that is increasingly absent from the newest bundles is, ironically, the very piece of the Xbox One that differentiates itself from its competitor; the Kinect.

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These new Kinect-less bundles are cheaper, and as a direct result have helped boost the growing Xbox One sales as recently


, but it begs the question whether you are getting a better deal or purchasing a truly lesser product.

When the Xbox One was released last year, there was only one option; Xbox One and Kinect. Microsoft’s version of peanut butter and jelly. Kinect is the glue that binds the new console together. That bond, however, caused the unfortunate price difference between the newly released PS4 and had a direct and (thus far) lasting effect on the console sales. As Microsoft began taking it on the chin, they began considering other options and the biggest of such measures was removing the glue that held the Xbox One together.

There was an almost immediate improvement in console sales for the Xbox One. A $100 cheaper and voila, more sales and with that came some much-needed better press. Although the sales have still not reached the massively successful PS4, they have been improving at a rather moderate pace, indicating that the pricing was a large factor in the difference in sales. The better sales, and improved press meant Microsoft was happier and all is well, right? Not exactly.

I have had my Xbox One since the holiday season last year and after nearly a full year of using it, I can not imagine having it without its soul mate Kinect. Yes, at times it can be frustrating when you tell it to turn on and it repeatedly disobeys you, but even still, it is a hugely positive aspect of my experiences on the Xbox One.

Kinect is the glue that binds the new console together

Almost every game published by Microsoft Studios has the Kinect in mind, and without it you just don’t get the complete experience that the developers intended you to have. For example, in

Forza Horizons 2

your in-car GPS is can be completely controlled using voice commands to Kinect and it added a much more realistic approach to driving. Without the Kinect, you have to stop driving and navigate a menu to set markers for your next destination, just not nearly as fluid. The

NBA 2K15

uses Kinect to call out plays simulating an actual game experience. These are just a couple examples, but there are plenty more gemicks similar to




littered throughout many Xbox One games.

Not only is it prevalent in many games, but the television integration is pretty spectacular. I really didn’t think I would have used the Kinect to search for shows, sports or even alter the volume, but not only do I use it, I almost exclusively navigate via Kinect. In fact, if for whatever reason I can’t use Kinect, I am normally aggravated, simply because of how much I enjoy it and just how easy it is.

Kinect also has some practical benefits. This comes as no surprise, but the Xbox One’s user interface is a bit overwhelming. In other words, it’s not the most pleasing to look at and even more unpleasant trying to navigate. I don’t think Microsoft could have crammed more things onto one screen than they did with the Xbox Ones UI. With that in mind, you almost need a Kinect out of pure necessity. I couldn’t find anything if I was unable to just dictate a voice command to help me navigate. Thankfully, Microsoft is planning some personalization to the home screen to help aid the increasing numbers of Xbox Kinect-less owners.

In the end, the lower price point might be too much to circumvent the growing trend of purchasing Kinect-less Xbox Ones. Microsoft has in part brought this unfortunate demise on itself. They didn’t stick to their guns and as a result fell victim to Sony’s price point assault. Yes, it was more expensive, but it was also more capable. The future possibilities of Kinect far outweighs the additional price and its unfortunate that Microsoft has diverted attention away from a pretty revolutionary innovation. While it still has some kinks and it doesn’t always work perfectly, it has so much potential. So many Xbox Ones are sold without a Kinect that developers are now presented with a conundrum: integrate their game with Kinect functionality or save time and money. Unfortunately, you can’t argue with most of their reasoning for not utilizing Kinect in development, cost too much with little encouragement from Microsoft. It is a shame, but that is the truth.

If you are in the market for an Xbox One this holiday season, I challenge you to at least consider reaching for a bundle packaged with a Kinect. It will cost you more, and for many that just won’t work, but if you are able I don’t think you will be let down. While it still has its fair share of drawbacks, the opportunities it provides are worth the kinks.

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