Microsoft is finally going to give gamers what they've wanted since the Xbox One launched -- a cheaper version that doesn't come bundled with a motion controlled Kinect sensor. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, made the announcement in a blog post today, saying Microsoft will begin selling a Kinect-free Xbox One console for $399 beginning June 9, 2014, in all markets where the console is currently sold.
This is a huge deal, not the least of which is because Microsoft has been so reluctant to separate its Kinect from the overall Xbox experience. However, by forcing the bundle on consumers, Microsoft essentially gambled that gamers would have no problem paying a $100 premium over Sony's PlayStation 4, which sells for $399 and doesn't come with a motion control camera.
To some extent, Microsoft gambled correctly -- it's sold over 5 million Xbox One consoles to date. At the same time, it hasn't been able to keep pace with the PlayStation 4, which has sold at least a couple million more units in relatively the same time frame. By knocking the price down to $399, it wouldn't surprise us to see a flurry of sales this summer.
"To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision. Many of you are using Kinect for Xbox One every day. In fact, more than 80 percent of you are actively using Kinect, with an average of 120 voice commands per month on each console," Spencer explains. "Some of the most popular voice commands include 'Xbox On,' 'Xbox Broadcast' and 'Xbox Record That.' We will continue to offer a premium Xbox One with Kinect bundle to deliver voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalization, instant scanning of QR codes, and enhanced features only available with Kinect in games such as Kinect Sports Rivals, Just Dance 2014, Project Spark and more.
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Microsoft didn't stop there. As rumored earlier in the day, Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners will no longer have to pony up for an Xbox Live Gold subscription in order to stream content from Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and other similar services. Instead, Microsoft will include other incentives to buy a Gold membership, such as a Games for Gold program, cloud game saves, and other features.
What do you think about this? Are you more likely to consider an Xbox One now that you can purchase the console without Kinect?