Developers Aren’t All Happy About Kinect-Less Xbox One

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Microsoft’s decoupling of Kinect was inevitable, and wasn’t a question of “if” but instead “when”. Not all developers (or indeed customers) are happy with Microsoft’s decision to release a Kinect-Less Xbox One, with several devs being rather vocal in their shock and dismay at the news.

“Oh, good” says one developer at Harmonix, while a co-worker adds “Oh, great”. In case you’re unable to tell, they’re being sarcastic and seem more than a little upset by the news. Likely fuelled by the fact they were working on Disney fantasia Music Evolved.

Disney Fantastic was set to be a Triple A Kinect only title for the Xbox One, there’d be no controller support at all. Obviously this means if you’re a new adopter to the Xbox One and opt to go for the Kinect-Less SKU you simply can’t buy the game. This isn’t a unique tale amongst developers, a number aren’t happy about the potential limitation of their target audience.

Paul Mottram, the head developer of Zumba Fitness told Develop in an interview, “From a developer point of view it’s a shame, as it all but kills the chances of making an original Kinect title unless it is a major licensed Fitness or Dance product – and even those will suffer as it’s unlikely we’ll see Kinect 2 units even come close to the installed base of the original now. Even then it was a challenge.

“I just feel sorry for those developers who had Kinect titles in development who’ve had the rug pulled from beneath them and may now stand little chance of seeing a return on their investment.

“Smaller developers may try something new with the peripheral that mainstream publishers were not willing to gamble on.”

It’s possible Microsoft made its mind up about the decision last minute, likely wrestling with itself internally over if they should do so now or wait. It’s possible some studios were informed, but news in the corporate world can take time to trickle through. It’d suck though if you were working on your game and only found out your target audience could well be vastly smaller all by reading a news article on some website.

From the perspective of the consumer, it remains unclear. If you were an early adopter Microsoft assures you that the Kinect remains the premium experience, but its also pointing out that a new interface update will be unveiled to control the system without Kinect.

Other developers are possibly delighted due to the announcement the removal of Kinect will in theory free up around 10 percent extra GPU reserves of the Xbox One. Of course much of that is up in the air, and if you’re someone who enjoys the console with Kinect or a developer creating a Kinect only (or Kinect focused) title it’s likely going to be of little comfort.

What strikes me and many others is they’ve effectively been told by Microsoft that they can’t just “flip a switch” and decouple the system. Now, around half a year after the X1’s launch Microsoft have caved and are “flipping the switch” and removing the Xbox One’s Kinect. Those users have the right to feel somewhat angry – and while it’s true their Kinect’s won’t suddenly stop functioning, there is a fear Microsoft won’t put the improvement or the promotion of Kinect as such a high priority.