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Microsoft cuts Kinect from the Xbox One and tears down Xbox Live paywall for entertainment services

ghostkinectThe last bastion of Microsoft’s original vision for the Xbox One has finally fallen to consumer demands. Microsoft has cut the Kinect from the Xbox One, lowering the price of admission for their next generation video game experience from $499 to $399. The price cut finally fills in the large price discrepancy between the Xbox One and the arguably more powerful PlayStation 4.

The PS4 has been consistently outselling the Xbox One for months now. According to the NPD market research group, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One for the third month in a row in March. This was the month of Titanfall, the game that Microsoft was banking on to sell consoles. Retailers such as BestBuy, Walmart and Amazon were even selling Xbox One Titanfall bundles, which included the Kinect, at the aggressive price point of $450.

The Kinect camera, while a feature-rich control mechanism that functions through voice commands and physical gestures, has been the bane of many potential Xbox One buyers. Many don’t see the point of spending an extra $100 on a device they deem superfluous. In an video that accompanied this announcement, Phil Spencer, newly appointed head of Xbox, said, “There’s a lot about Kinect that I really love, but we’ve also heard from people that they just like to play games with a controller in their hand…and what we wanted to do is, for those people, make sure that there’s a version of Xbox that really meets the exact needs that they have.”

You can pre-order the new $399 Kinectless Xbox One now, and the system will ship on June 9. Microsoft will continue to offer the premium Kinect bundle at $499 and will sell the Kinect as a standalone device later this year. The price of the standalone Kinect has yet to be determined. Spencer told IGN, “The price probably won’t be exactly $100. There is some efficiency in putting everything together in one box. So we’ll announce more on pricing later.”

In response to why Microsoft decided to announce this now rather than at E3 next month, Spencer said, “We wanted to get this out of the way so that E3 could be about the games and the great platform lineup.”

In addition to this shocking news, Microsoft will also be removing the Xbox Live Gold requirement for entertainment services, such as Netflix, on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One in early June.

Previously, to watch Netflix on an Xbox, you had to have both a Netflix subscription and a paid subscription to Xbox Live Gold, Microsoft’s premium online gaming service. Now only a Netflix subscription will be required, finally creating some feature parity with other competing streaming devices. Xbox Live Gold will no longer be required for entertainment services such as Twitch streaming, Netflix and HBO GO. Other Xbox apps that used to be locked behind the Xbox Live Gold paywall, such as Internet Explorer and Skype, will also be available without a subscription.

By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra

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