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The Kinect hasn't been the most loved device on the home console market. There were a lot of hiccups in its general acceptance due to Microsoft's ties with the NSA and the Prism program, but the new head of the Xbox division believes that all the controversy is water under the bridge and that consumers will buy Kinect, either as part of the package or as a standalone device following the release of the June SKU.
GamesIndustry.biz managed to get in some time with the new Xbox brand boss and ask him about the direction of the device following the explosive news about the $399 price-point and removal of Kinect 2.0 from the bundle.
Firstly, Spencer defends the decision in regards to potential software support, making a keen point about the console's install base adoption rates being the most important metric for the device, saying....
"A Kinect game relies on the successful Xbox One installed base," ... "I need to, as the head of Xbox, make sure that we've got a platform and a product offering that millions of consumers will love, and I stay focused on that. That's where I'm at now. We'll also continue to evolve what Kinect can do.”
In a way, that actually might be the best option for the device. Originally, I felt that removing Kinect from the bundle would hinder the Xbox One in terms of feature-appeal. It's already a leg behind the competition when it comes to performance, so removing the one thing that separates it from the PS4 seemed like a bad move. However, Spencer's main concern is simply getting Xbox One consoles in homes first and foremost.
Phil goes on to say that...
“We see millions and millions of people using Kinect today. We've had over a billion voice commands used. The use of Kinect in people's homes is incredibly high. And because people are continuing to use it, it's an area we're going to continue to invest, in terms of making the experience better. And I think that makes building games in that environment even better. Consumers love the device; they love the experience. They'll buy it. They'll either buy it at launch when they buy their console, or they'll be able to buy it after the $399 console; they'll pick it up and add it on later. And we'll continue to make sure that experience is great."
So essentially, his stance is that by selling more Xbox One SKUs they can increase the potential to sell more Kinect 2.0 units? Interesting.
For the most part this experiment will determine whether or not Microsoft is committed to the future of the Kinect device.
Right now, the Kinect 2.0 doesn't really have any noteworthy exclusives for it. Yeah there's Kinect Sports Rivals and Ubisoft's Fighter Within, but who is really going to go out of their way to buy a Kinect to play those kind of games? They're part of the main reason why Microsoft is unbundling the pairing of the system and the camera in the first place.
The real test of how well Spencer's decision will come into play will see fruition in the June NPD figures. Everyone and their mother will be watching those numbers like a hawk.