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Microsoft has announced that the Xbox One, without Kinect, will be available from June 9 for $400. The Kinect-free Xbox One will be available in “all markets where Xbox One is sold.” To complete the circle, this fall you’ll also be able to buy the standalone Kinect sensor (no price was given, but presumably it’ll be $100).
There is just one reason for this new Kinectless Xbox One package, of course: Price parity with the PS4. which has retailed for $400 — a full $100 less than the Xbox One — since its release. Reading the official Xbox blog post. though, it’s clear that Microsoft’s spin doctoring department is in full flow. Almost the entirety of the post is dedicated to explaining why the Xbox One is best enjoyed with Kinect — but grudgingly, against its best instincts, Microsoft is releasing a version without Kinect because “we’ve heard that you want more choices from Xbox One.”
Beyond the new $400 Xbox One package, the blog post also discusses its decision to remove the Xbox Live Gold paywall for various web services and apps. To keep people using Gold, there’ll be an additional free Xbox 360 game in June, and Deals with Gold will launch for the Xbox One in June, offering subscribers discounts on games. In short, Microsoft has addressed almost every issue that we outlined at the
beginning of the month — except for the weird “parity” clause that’s holding back indie devs from publishing on the console.
To be honest, this is all a little bit sad. Microsoft is desperately trying to keep its cool, but it’s very, very hard to stay in control when you give up on your vision and capitulate to every demand. Sentences like this say it all: “To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision.” Microsoft really did have an innovative vision when it first introduced the always-online, mandatory-Kinect Xbox One — it might not have been the right vision, but at least Microsoft was pushing the boundaries of console gaming.
Xbox One’s Yusuf Mehdi, announcing the $399 Xbox One. This is not the face of someone who is happy.
All that’s left now is a henpecked husk of a games company that’s too afraid to make any bold moves, lest the tech press and gamers abandon its console completely. It’s kind of pathetic, really. We rag on Microsoft for being a follower rather than a leader — and then when it tries to be different, this is what happens. Oh well. At least we can now buy a console that’s functionally almost identical to the PS4, but with significantly weaker hardware, for $400. That’s kind of a victory, I guess.