Has Hell frozen over?
About eight months ago, before the Xbox One launched, Microsoft was shooting down rumors that it would sell the Xbox One without the Kinect. Surprisingly, the company this week announced plans to do just that.
Speaking via a blog post published this morning, Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, said that starting June 9, Xbox One will be available at $399 sans Kinect. This 'unbundle' will mean the Xbox One can be purchased for the same price as the PS4, though the experience you’ll get with the Xbox One on its own won’t match the experience Microsoft sells in a lot of its marketing materials because there is no Kinect.
Last summer, there was talk of Microsoft offering customers the option to buy the Xbox One without Kinect. This was supposed to put Microsoft’s console in line or even under the PS4 in terms of price. Microsoft, at the time, said that Xbox One and Kinect would always be sold at the same time because they are not separate systems. They are part of the same platform.
"Correct. Xbox One is Kinect," Microsoft’s Phil Harrison told CVG in August. "They are not separate systems. An Xbox One has chips, it has memory, it has Blu-ray, it has Kinect, it has a controller. These are all part of the platform ecosystem."
Now, they're saying that Kinect is really important (in fact 80 percent of users are actively using Kinect), but feedback from customers has shown people want a variety of options in their hardware selection. In other words, Microsoft thinks the two should be sold together, but is giving the people what they want, even if it means giving them a different experience from the one the company is pushing. For those that buy the Xbox One without Kinect and later discover they need or want Kinect to round out the Xbox One experience, Microsoft will be offering a standalone sensor for Xbox One later this fall. No word on pricing on that, but it will be interesting to see if customers will break even or be out-of-pocket if they decide to buy the two separately.