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Microsoft: Xbox One Won't Require Kinect To Function 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the hmm,-what-do-we-complain-about-now? dept.
UnknowingFool writes "Microsoft has reversed course on another aspect of the Xbox One. Though Xbox One will come bundled with a Kinect sensor, the console will work without it. Critics were had suggested that an always-on video and audio sensor could be used to spy on users. Microsoft's Marc Whitten said, '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. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.' This is the latest reversal from Microsoft since they killed the phone-home DRM and made it region-free."
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Microsoft: Xbox One Won't Require Kinect To Function

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  • by SniperJoe (1984152) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @01:39PM (#44555099)
    Is it me or does it seem like Microsoft is between a rock and a hard place now? They've spent months telling us about how the Kinect was mandatory and that it would be used by all their games moving forward! Now developers are going to have to acknowledge that it is optional and that a substantial portion of the population won't use it. Furthermore, people are going to ask, if it's optional, why are you forcing me to buy it?

    For every one of these u-turns they make (after touting the features that these things apparently relied on), they just seem more and more boxed in.
    • by war4peace (1628283) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @01:44PM (#44555203)

      I think a substantial portion of the population WILL still use it. Microsoft's stance change solely means they want to turn off the most vocal naysayers, that's all there is to it.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        I don't know any hardcore gamers who use kinect with any kinect enhanced games. using it to control squaddies or stuff like that.

        heck, I don't even know anyone who use it for sports games or dance games either. the only places I've seen it even hooked up are in shops and the local MS office(and I know more than 3 people with 360). I don't know _anyone_ who has had the "FUCK YEAH THIS IS THE FUTURE! YES YES YES!" mentality about playing with kinect or controlling anything with it.

        anyways... they had to do th

        • Can't you just... turn it off when not playing it? I mean the whole thing, not just the Kinect.
          I don't and won't own any gaming console anytime soon, that's why I'm asking.

        • by Clsid (564627)

          You nailed it right in the head. I also do not know anyone that think Kinect was a other than a gimmick, and smae goes for PS Move while we are at it. I think the Wii was the truly innovative design and everybody wanted to do a quick copy afterwards, but even the Wii with its crappy non-HD graphics ended up being a gimmick after a couple of months.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        Microsoft is setting themselves up to be able to offer an XBox One console without the Kinect for $399-$449 rather than the bundled version for $499. This lets them compete better against the PS4's $399 pricing. The problem, of course, was that Microsoft was selling the platform to developers on the premise that everyone would have a kinect to get better buy in.

    • by rwven (663186) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @01:46PM (#44555225)

      I think developers, knowing that players will at least have the hardware, will be free to make Kinect required for their specific games. I'm imagining some kind of art on game cases to specify this, like there was for the 360.

      The fact is, most games/developers weren't going to use that rubbish anyway. That kind of control simply isn't the future because people don't WANT to play games and use interfaces that way. It's FAR more of a hassle to wave your hands around than it is to just push a button or move a control stick. If it was 100% reliable like handheld controllers are it'd be one thing, but the kinect as it stands has like a 40% success rate at actually understanding what you're trying to get it to do.

      • by J-1000 (869558) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @06:30PM (#44558857)

        I think developers, knowing that players will at least have the hardware, will be free to make Kinect required for their specific games.

        BUT most games are ported between platforms. So gone is this notion of "it will always be there". It won't.

      • I've experimented with developing games and applications for the Kinect. I currently have three watching everything I do all the time, even watching me while I sleep, and feeding the data into a network of neural networks... On Linux. See, I wouldn't trust that crap to do this on MS platforms. I gave up developing for the 360+Kinect because the play area was just too stupidly large to be practical in just about anywhere. Most folks who own consoles don't have them in a room that's got 10 to 15 feet o

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @01:51PM (#44555311) Journal

      Simple answer, really...

      They'll see if they can slip all that DRM and restriction back in once enough customers have bought one. They'll claim that piracy is massive, and that they had to take drastic steps, etc.

      Sort of like how Sony popped in that little update on the PS3 that killed OtherOS, but this time with an excuse that the common folk will rationalize.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Moheeheeko (1682914)
        Which is exactly why Microsoft isnt getting a sale from me. You dont forgive the abusive boyfriend just because he promises to stop beating you.
      • by cbhacking (979169)

        I like how you're perfectly aware of the exactly one time in console history that something like what you describe happened, and you're also aware of who did it... and presumably also therefore aware of the backlash they took over it, right down to having the root trust of their console's security ripped apart by irate hackers looking to reverse the restrictions.

        And yet, you think that the next company to try it will be a *competitor* of the only one to have done it so far? The company who benefited massive

        • by Wookact (2804191)
          Because Sony got away with it. Once one of them gets away with it, the others feel free to jump on the boat.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @07:54PM (#44559661)

          You can't really apply logic to the actions of any of the console manufacturers. WiiU is a flop, Xbone is a train wreck, and the PS4 is only praised for not fucking up.

          Did you miss all the updates the 360 received over it's tenure? Many added features, but most increased restrictions, closed loopholes, and offline ban-flagged consoles so that when they went back online they were instantly banned. Many updates actually removed features such as Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix Party mode. Granted they may have been sparsely used, but it comes down to the argument of who owns the right to define how the consumer uses legally purchased hardware and what rights the user has to modify said hardware if it's operating code is copyrighted by someone else.

          Singling out the PS3 as if it were "exactly one time in console history" that a vendor changed the capabilities of a system is at best dishonest and at worst a feeble attempt to make the PS4 look less appealing while doing nothing to improve the standing of the Xbone. With all three consoles failing spectacularly, the clear winner for next-gen is Steam.

    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:03PM (#44555499)

      I think part of the problem of MS was the doublespeak that they used and unwillingness to admit that they were implementing features users did not like. For example, gamers wanted to know if there was an offline mode. MS responded that the Xbox One did not require a "persistent" Internet connection but the device had to phone home once a day .

      Gamers wanted to know if used games could be played. After a long and confusing answer about how the new console would allow you to trade in your games at retailers, MS admitted that the game developers could limit that ability and that you could share/sell only under certain situations.

      This last concern with the always on and required status of the Kinect module had MS trying to allay fears by saying that you could turn off the console. But they didn't mention that turning "off" the console did not turn off the module. An "off" console could be turned on by speaking "Xbox on" which means the Kinect module was always on.

    • by Electrawn (321224) <electrawn AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:18PM (#44555753) Homepage

      Quite simply, the main feature Microsoft has been touting to advertisers is the ability to detect who is in the room and target ads accordingly. The gold mine is not in Kinect for games, its for the TV/Video/Music/Netflix/Hulu consumption and the "big data" of being to tell that there is a 30-35 white male (recognized and tracked via Bing), 30-35 white female (Not logged in but we know her profile), and another 25-30 female guest that we have an 90% confidence is person Y who has a bing account. Lets target Ad X, Y and not Z.

      MS will put Nielsen to shame with all that mineable data. There will be still be people who leave the MS eye on all the time, at least now you have the option to unplug it.

      • by Russ1642 (1087959)

        There were rumours that MS won a secret NSA contract a couple years ago... hey wait just a minute!

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        The gold mine is not in Kinect for games, its for the TV/Video/Music/Netflix/Hulu consumption...

        Which is exactly the reason why Microsoft developed Windows Media Center and gave it away for free to everyone in Windows 7, then made it a (now paid) add on in Windows 8, and faces a very uncertain future. All because it's such a huge gold mine. Or not.

        The whole HTPC area is such a mishmash of different technologies, interfaces, buggy codecs that work 100% properly with this video but not with that one. Encry

        • by cbhacking (979169)

          Media Center was actually developed for XP (though only available there as an OEM install) and was included with several editions of Vista as well. Its hardly new to Win7 (you didn't outright say that, but you did imply it).

          Not that this damags your point in any way, I just wanted to make it clear that WMC wasn't a "flash in the pan" sort of thing that was developed and quickly dropped - it's now about a decade old and has been on four different major Windows releases.



      • The point is moot because IRI and AC Neilson sell their database to anyone that will pay. That is their business. MS MAY sell RESULTS of data analysis to a consumer, but it isn't in the business of selling databases
    • It's just you. The kinect is going to be bundled. Developers know everyone will have it and can turn it on if they feel like it.

      If you're trying to decide whether to make kinect part of your game, whether or not everyone has it does matter. Whether they have it on does not. If you have a game idea that requires it, make them turn it on. Better yet, make it optional if it's actually something that the game benefits from.

      The always on thing seemed like it was just for MS's benefit. So you could li
    • by steelfood (895457)

      Is it me or does it seem like Microsoft is between a rock and a hard place now?

      No.

      Microsoft is still shipping the console with Kinect. And games that require the Kinect will still ask you to turn it on.

      All this does is allow you to turn it off when the rest of the unit is off. This means you lose certain gesture-based functionality (like turning the unit on with a gesture), but that's about it.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Is it me or does it seem like Microsoft is between a rock and a hard place now? They've spent months telling us about how the Kinect was mandatory and that it would be used by all their games moving forward! Now developers are going to have to acknowledge that it is optional and that a substantial portion of the population won't use it. Furthermore, people are going to ask, if it's optional, why are you forcing me to buy it?

      For every one of these u-turns they make (after touting the features that th

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      I use my current Xbox hooked up to my computer monitor. I sit about 3' away from a 27" monitor. How could a Kinect possibly function in that environment?

      I'm glad Microsoft has reversed course on this.

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      Now developers are going to have to acknowledge that it is optional and that a substantial portion of the population won't use it.

      They'll use it if they want to play a game that requires it.

      Furthermore, people are going to ask, if it's optional, why are you forcing me to buy it?

      If all you want to play is kinect games then a controller is optional but you still have to buy that, same deal with an optical drive.

      For every one of these u-turns they make (after touting the features that these things apparently relied on), they just seem more and more boxed in.

      Seems more like they're listening to complaints and reacting to them. Would you prefer it if companies just took a hardline stance and ignore all complaints?

  • by fiordhraoi (1097731) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @01:39PM (#44555113)
    Don't get me wrong, I'm glad MS has reversed course on all those items. They were bad decisions for the consumer. Ultimately though, it's coming in at a $500 price point. That's going to be it's single biggest hurdle when it's put on shelves (physical or virtual) next to its competitors.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @01:42PM (#44555155)

    Will it still not require always-on and Kinect-connected after a year? I'll wait to see.

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      You know, there's only one major console vendor that's ever pulled a stunt like that.

      Hint: it's not Microsoft. And the backlash was huge.

      • I take it you mean Sony, though I don't recall which scenario you meant in particular since they'd done a lot of garbage in the past.

        I'm kind of torn. Sony has done some insanely bad things to the consumers over the years with rootkits and what-not.

        The PS4 looks like an interesting piece of hardware, but I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop and we find out that Sony is going to require or incorporate something insane with the unit. The only thing pushing back is they're seeing the backlash with

        • by TheP4st (1164315)

          I take it you mean Sony, though I don't recall which scenario you meant in particular since they'd done a lot of garbage in the past.

          cbhacking probably refer to the removal of the PS3 feature otherOS that were disabled with a firmware update.

          • by cbhacking (979169)

            Removal of PS2 backward compatibility, and of OtherOS, yes.

            Furthermore, that led (slightly indirectly) to PS3 games "needing" their own DRM, because a bunch of irate hackers who flet they should be able to use the features they paid for went and tore the console's so-called security a new one. Getting the ability to run pirated or "hacked" games was just a by-product of, and far easier to achieve than, getting the ability to run Linux back. However, it led to a massive uptick of game piracy cheating in onli

  • Some more 180 and they might stand a chance in some skateboarding or snowboarding contest.



    "Achievement unlocked: 3x180 in just two months"
  • Doesn't matter ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @01:51PM (#44555309) Homepage

    Sorry Microsoft, but it just doesn't matter any more.

    You've told us where you'd like to go with this, you've as much as told us you don't give a shit about what it is that we want.

    So, as much as I like my XBox 360 -- I won't be replacing it. Certainly not with this thing which is more about what Microsoft wants than what is good for consumers.

    My XBox 360 got banished from a network connection when I started seeing ads in the home screen and in the games -- and as much as you keep trying to back pedal, the damage is done, and I am not interested in your shiny new toy.

    Maybe if you hadn't acted like such arrogant assholes who said "this is what we're making, deal with it", consumers wouldn't be saying "well, we're not buying it, deal with it".

    Instead, I can say quite heartily ... not buying it, don't care, and go pound sand.

    • by mjr167 (2477430)

      you've as much as told us you don't give a shit about what it is that we want.

      Then why do they keep removing all the heinous features everyone complains about?

      • by The Moof (859402) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:12PM (#44555645)

        Then why do they keep removing all the heinous features everyone complains about?

        They were very stubborn in their defense of the heinous features... until pre-orders opened up for both consoles. The PS4 was trouncing the X1, which likely was their "oh shit" moment. Since then, they've been slowly rolling back the features. I think it's too late to recoup the lost pre-order sales, but may save some face for sales down the road.

    • Maybe if you hadn't acted like such arrogant assholes who said "this is what we're making, deal with it", consumers wouldn't be saying "well, we're not buying it, deal with it".

      DING! Now, mind you, Sony didn't exactly win any friends by cutting out 'Other OS' from the Playstation 3, and most console manufacturers want to move in this direction. Microsoft was just the first to fall on the ceremonial sword. It's not so much that they tried this (and ate an enraged internet in response), it's the terrible PR response after that piqued my interest.

      Leaked memos detailing how to spin it, several high-level managers saying they weren't turning back, insisting that the features under fire

      • by Zalbik (308903)

        Leaked memos detailing how to spin it, several high-level managers saying they weren't turning back, insisting that the features under fire were "integral" to the XBone, and the list goes on...

        I've been following the Xbox one train-wreck pretty closely for a while now, but I don't remember any leaked memo's regarding how to spin "features", or indicating they weren't going back.....do you have links?

        I've found this whole thing an awesome example of poor market research. It seems that Balmer so desperatel

        • I've been following the Xbox one train-wreck pretty closely for a while now, but I don't remember any leaked memo's regarding how to spin "features", or indicating they weren't going back.....do you have links?

          I, uhh, take it you that your internet connection to everything but Slashdot failed right before you posted this? Because otherwise, googling for "xbox leaked memo" might give you the answer. You can even push the "I'm feeling lucky" button. In fact, you'll have to dig in a few pages into the results before you find anything but the details of the leaked memo.

          Anyway, hope your internet gets fixed soon.

          • by Zalbik (308903)

            I, uhh, take it you that your internet connection to everything but Slashdot failed right before you posted this? Because otherwise, googling for "xbox leaked memo" might give you the answer.

            Ha ha...funny. Yes, I searched. The only memo I could find (on the first 5 pages) regarded the policy change over the required persistent internet connection. Your original claim was:

            it's the terrible PR response after that piqued my interest.

            Leaked memos detailing how to spin it, several high-level managers sayi

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      If it's all about what MS wants, and they don't care about what the "consumer" wants (I really prefer the term "customer", but whatever)...

      Then why did they reverse all those anti-consumer policies? That's not the action of somebody who doesn't care. They did not, in fact, say "this is what we're making, deal with it." I mean, that's quite self-evident, because that's *not* what they're making!

      Here, let me make it more plain to you: what could they have done to *more clearly* have listened to people's react

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        They did not, in fact, say "this is what we're making, deal with it."

        Yes, they did in fact. They quite vocally said words to the effect of it had to be that way, was going to be that way, and it was far too late to change and we should just suck it up and deal with it. You can believe they never said that, but anybody who has been following the news on this knows otherwise.

        This may shock you, but there are people who were actually excited about the original plans, because always-on connection means multi

        • by lgw (121541)

          Yes, they did in fact. They quite vocally said words to the effect of it had to be that way, was going to be that way, and it was far too late to change and we should just suck it up and deal with it.

          The person who said that was fired, right? That's pretty darn responsive for a major corporation.

          That doesn't mean any amount of them trying to back-pedal and change their mind means I've forgotten and arrogance and douchyness they displayed when this first came out. Because I don't believe they won't just try to sneak this in down the road.

          Well, if they're purging the people who made those decisions, then you can be as sure as you ever can with a major corporation. That's a pretty strong indicator that their plans have changed. So far they at least have a better reputation than Sony in this regard.

    • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:42PM (#44556109)

      This, exactly.

      Imagine you're looking to go on a cruise. You shop around for a cruise ship to go on. It'll cost a pretty penny and there are ships of various sizes and quality. And then there's this crazy captain that, while his ship is new and shiny, openly states that all passengers will be shackled, chained to an oar, and sold to the highest bidder once they reach port. Upon hearing the lament of the crowd, and hardly anyone signing up, he has a change of heart: No shackles, no chains. So come on, we're all looking for a good time here. I've turned over a new leaf. Trust me. I don't REALLY want to brutally dominate your every waking moment. It was just a silly idea I was floating out there. Hey! If you don't like chains, I don't like chains. Not that I'm saying the chains were a bad idea. I still think you'd really like them. But for now there will be no chains on my ship.

      • by neminem (561346)

        Heh. All you need to do is replace "cruise ship" with "air travel", and that would basically describe RyanAir with hardly any exaggeration or metaphor. :D

    • by Lendrick (314723)

      This seems to be the pattern that the leader of the previous console generation follows (with a few exceptions).

      By the end of its generation, the SNES had taken the lead, so Nintendo shoved a bunch of bad decisions down everyones' throats with the N64 (cartridge games, anyone?), and they lost to the PSX. Sony managed not to bork up the PS2, but the hubris had caught up to them with the PS3 and they priced it so high that it hurt their sales and propelled XBox 360 into the lead. Now Microsoft apparently th

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I am going to presume just for a second, for the purpose of this discussion, that your commentary here implies that you otherwise would have purchased the new Xbox? Does this mean you're going to be buying the PS4, or are you also eschewing that platform on the basis that Sony has also demonstrated aptly that they are backstabbing assmonkeys? And if your answer is some variation upon the latter, may I inquire as to what you will be using for gaming?

  • Nah... I doubt they ever wanted or intended to develop for it to begin with. Some MS first party titles will have it shoehorned into them; but most games, even the vast majority of games will remain multi platform, so putting in kinect functionality is a wasted effort. Just like PS Move, SixAxis or Wiiu Pad support.

    • by Ravaldy (2621787)

      You're just talking out of your ass with no foundation for your arguments.

      There is a huge client base for games that require actual body movement. Kinect is known (not just presumed) to have the best movement detection framework in the gaming industry.

      • by TheP4st (1164315)

        Kinect is known (not just presumed) to have the best movement detection framework in the gaming industry.

        Which matters very little when Kinect can completely ruin your gaming experience as it did with Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor [youtube.com]

  • XBox One: NSA Edition

    :P :D

  • by Zimluura (2543412) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:08PM (#44555581)

    It seems that the drm will still be there in some form though.
    http://www.ubergizmo.com/2013/07/forza-5-requires-download-before-it-can-run/ [ubergizmo.com]

    though they've been backpeddling from that too.
    http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/07/18/forza-motorsport-5-install-offline-details-clarified [ign.com]

    best case i could give them is a wait and see approach.

    when i look at these factors:
    the xbone fiasco.
    the windows8 mess.
    consumers seem to like apple now.
    ms' abysmal presence on mobile devices.

    it's seeming very plausible that consumers will realize there just is no good reason for microsoft to exist anymore. about the only customer they haven't alienated is the ms office user.

  • by crashcy (2839507) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:16PM (#44555727)
    XBox One is no longer a gaming console. Microsoft has reversed the policy about playing games on their upcoming console. The company has not revealed what it will do now, but given the amount of anger over every move they have made so far, industry analysts believe it may be their best decision now to just do nothing.
  • I know people wanted to slam Microsoft on everything about Xbox One, but I never suspected that it wouldn't work without Kinect attached. I throw this clearly into the FUD category. I think Microsoft was clarifying that idiots assumed it needed Kinect to work, not reversing a decision that it would require Kinect to work.

  • I'm still waiting for them to reach the apex (nadir?) of these reversals:

    "PS4, but with Halo"

  • It seems like Microsoft is exploring what the public will let them get away with.

  • The xbox should not exist.

    The windows phone should not exist.

    Surface should not exist.

    All of these things should just be the PC in different shapes.

    PCs can run games as well or FAR better then any console. Release an inexpensive standardized gaming PC that is of console form factor and with a customized GUI for living room use. Anything that works on the machine will work on any appropriately powerful PC. And nearly all games that work on PC will automatically work on that machine. Instantly better.

    Windows

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      PCs can run games as well or FAR better then any console

      I don't want to mix my games with my desktop. I want to keep them separate, like oil and water, democrats and republicans... My desktop exists to do work, create content, communicate complex thoughts that take too long on a touch display or a shitty keyboard. My console exists to play games without any extraneous bullshit. I'm already unhappy about having to install an update for every game I buy. I suppose it's really past time for me to upgrade past the 80GB disk for the 360, so that I can keep all my gam

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