Sigh. It didn't take long for Microsoft to reach out and nuke rumors that the company plans to ship a version of the Xbox One without the Kinect sensor. Given how Kinect 2.0 is integrated in Microsoft's new console, the rumor seemed a little silly – it's the eyes and ears of the next-generation system. To understand this, you have to actually see the duo in action when the Xbox One arrives this holiday season.
"We have no plans to introduce an Xbox One without Kinect. We believe in Kinect and the value it brings to both games and entertainment, and believe $499 is a great value for what consumers receive with their Xbox One," a Microsoft representative told Gamespot.
The rumor about a Kinect-free Xbox One came by way of supposed insiders who told Inside Gaming Daily that Microsoft intends to release a bundle without the Kinect in the summer of 2014. There's also supposedly a second bundle, according to the unnamed insider, that will offer a smaller hard drive. Both are supposedly Microsoft's response to the PlayStation 4's cheaper $399 USD price point.
The insider information regarding Kinect was seemingly backed up by a privacy statement issued by Microsoft. Xbox One owners are in control of when the Kinect sensor is on, off or paused. The device can be paused if the user doesn't want it when playing games, navigating or consuming other content. The Kinect also has the ability to listen for voice commands when the console is turned off – this "listening" feature can be disabled as well.
"Some apps and games may require Kinect functionality to operate, so you’ll need to turn it back on for these experiences," the company states.
Thus, even though Microsoft insists that the Xbox One can't function optimally without the Kinect sensor, it's possible that Microsoft could sell the console and Kinect separately just to offer a lower point-of-sale console-wise. Still, selling one without the other could be like buying a new car without tires, a scenario Microsoft likely wants to avoid.
Keep in mind that Sony's PlayStation 4 may sell for $399, but the updated PlayStation Eye – Sony's answer to Kinect – will cost $60. Sources claimed that Sony didn't introduce the PlayStation 4 and the Eye as a complete package at E3 2013 in June just to undercut Microsoft by $100. The whole DRM controversy was a big blow to Redmond as well.
If anything, the idea of Microsoft selling the Xbox One with Kinect and a smaller hard drive seems reasonable, a bundle that's marketed to a mainstream audience rather than hardcore gamers who likely already bought the gaming box within the first three months of availability. Parts should be cheaper by mid-2014 as well, bringing down prices just a notch.