Talking Point: Kinect Isn't Going Anywhere
Posted by Ken Barnes
Microsoft have recently ditched their plans to enforce DRM on Xbox One titles, have removed the requirement for the console to connect to the internet every 24 hours, and have made the Xbox One a region-free device. All good work. But still, gamers are complaining. They think that Kinect for Xbox One is always watching you (even though you can put it into “paused” mode which all but turns it off.) They’re also complaining that the “offline mode” (that removes the 24-hour check-in requirement) can only be enabled by downloading a patch on launch day.
We're not going to comment on the second point, as it won't be a problem for most, and will be a total non-issue with later production runs of the Xbox One, and while we understand the issues with the first point, there are things to be said about it.
This is a new console generation, and we have to have some innovation from somewhere. Due to the DRM and internet connectivity requirements being kicked, we lose the fantastic-sounding “Family Policy” that would have allowed you to share your games with up to ten other people. You won’t be able to buy Call of Duty: Ghosts and play it against your girlfriend online without buying two copies. One of your good friends strapped for cash this month but really wants to play that new title that you’ve picked up? Tough. He or she will now have to wait.
That’s real innovation kicked out of the window in exchange for making the console into a competitor, and that’s fair enough. The DRM policies WERE too restrictive, as were the online requirements and the fact that if you wanted to play the Xbox One in an “unsupported” country, you’d not be able to was ridiculous – so we’re pleased that’s gone too.
So the next thing everyone is taking aim at, is Kinect. As we say, they think that the device will be used for spying or watching you getting up to the nasty in your lounge - we'll say it again - even though you can put it into “paused” mode which all but turns it off. Microsoft is still overcharging for the console bundle as a whole as well, apparently. They want Kinect to be chopped from the package, and the price of the whole shooting match to be dropped by $100.
There would be absolutely no sense in this. Right now, Kinect for Xbox 360 is largely pointless. Barring a few half-decent titles, the first Kinect device played host to nothing but shovelware. Why? Well, support was bolted on at the last minute for hybrid titles, and Kinect-exclusive titles were generally not being pushed as “triple A” products. They had low budgets, were rushed, and it showed. If Microsoft takes Kinect out of the Xbox One’s box, that situation will never, EVER change. Developers and publishers need to believe that the device has an audience. An audience that don’t need to spend another $125 on a hardware accessory in order to play their game. Why would any publisher or developer pour good resources into developing a motion-controlled game that up to 20 million people can play, when they can pour the same resources into developing a controller-controlled game that can be played by 75 million people on the SAME console? No extra skills are required. No more development time. They just get rid of the Kinect requirement and their potential audience goes up by a massive amount. Xbox One does away with that.
We don’t blame anyone for hating on Kinect. The first version wasn’t good. You only need to look at majority of those Kinect-only titles that were released for the device to see why people have such a negative view of the system. But this time around, with Kinect as part of the standard system, rather than just an optional bolt-on, the games will undoubtedly start to use it in innovative, interesting, and downright entertaining ways. Maybe not from day one – although Dead Rising 3’s implementation sounds fun – but certainly by the time the next E3 rolls around.
Kinect isn’t going anywhere. This is a new console generation, and we have to have SOME innovation. What do you think? Are you ready to give Kinect another chance, or do you want it gone?