On May 13, 2014 Microsoft surprised the whole world by releasing a video “Delivering More Choices For Fans.” In the video, they said that they will be launching a Kinect-less SKU for Xbox One which is going to be cheaper by $100. This was an unexpected move, because whenever Microsoft was asked about the sales gap with the PS4, they would reply with statements like “It is not a sprint, it is a marathon”, “We are just beginning the race” etc. Moreover, I saw many Xbox Fans dodging the sales argument by repeating the same statements. This was definetely a tough decision for Microsoft, on one side they had a group of people who wanted to have Kinect (35-45%) and others who did not want it (65-55%). The former group also backed the Microsoft statements, and repeated the Microsoft Kinect sales pitch.
Now, looking at the current sales trend of the Xbox One, Microsoft have actually taken a step in the right direction. There was no other option to close the sales gap between its only rival, and Microsoft eventually had to go the Sony way.
The right move?
Frequent readers on iLLGaming know that I am an Xbox fanboy. Now you might be wondering why I am doing this i.e. writing an article which is anti-Xbox, I should be happy Microsoft is bringing down the price of Xbox which means it is more affordable now, and more people can buy it, right? No.
I am irked because Microsoft started on the right footing with the Xbox and Xbox 360, but screwed it up with the Xbox One by removing Kinect, which is only what the fans wanted. It is not Microsoft’s fault in a way, all they did was respond to gamers wanting ‘more’ out of their consoles. It’s their fault that they were short-sighted to see through other demands, but Microsoft has done the right thing by making Kinect non-compulsary.
Just a gaming console
Xbox One was is so much more than a gaming console, all the voice features were like like an icing on the cake. Now, without the Kinect being compulsory, Microsoft is risking Kinect sales, and even more so, sales of Kinect games, which is why the decision was so hard for them. Microsoft could have bought down the price of Xbox One by taking few losses, and that would still piss off gamers because the Kinect is sill being forced upon them.
Without the Kinect, the Xbox One is just another good ol’ gaming console, with a robust amount of features to user like capturing video, faster multi-tasking and many more. All these features make Xbox One a pretty neat device if you ask me.
By removing the Kinect many more people will buy the Xbox One, especially in countries like India where the Xbox One is considered a luxury, priced at a range of >INR 50,000. Now when these people buy the Kinect-less Xbox One, I hope after sometime they realise that Kinect is a device they need to have a more complete Xbox One experience, and then go and buy a standalone Kinect. It then is not a something forced upon the buyers, but the decision is now theirs.
No more Xbox Gold only apps
Microsoft also announced that now, most of its entertainment apps will not be behind Xbox Live Gold, and they will be introducing Xbox Games With Gold Program for Xbox One. All these steps taken by Microsoft are in right direction as now Xbox Live Gold will offer more value and users who wanted to enjoy Xbox’s entertainment features can enjoy them without paying for Xbox Live Gold. They have also announced that they will be offering heavy discounts on Xbox games. There will be a special place for Xbox Live Gold members where they will get 50-75% discounts, free games and much more. These features will also be carried over to Xbox 360.
To conclude that I actually have mixed feelings about these decisions. It’s positive and negative in its own way but one thing is for sure, the Xbox Live improvements make me feel like Phil Spencer (head of Xbox division) is taking the Xbox in the right direction.