The X-Box One Platform continues to evolve. Today it was revealed that the Kinect would no longer need to be connected to the console at all times for it to function. The Kinect 2.0 will work much like the current generation Kinect does. If you were one of those individuals worried about the possibility of the government or a cyber criminal hacking your camera and taking a peek inside your home this should come as welcome news. You don’t even have to unwrap the Kinect camera now if you don’t want to. (http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/08/12/xbox-one-no-longer-requires-kinect-to-function)
I think this is great news. It opens the door eventually for a $400 sku that comes without the Kinect. The Kinect is a novel idea in theory but nobody has really been able to capitalize on the potential of the device yet. Voice commands and navigating menus with your hands are nice but there has yet to be a piece of compelling software that justifies the existence of the device. I think Avengers: Battle for Earth from Ubisoft was the only Kinect game I played that felt like it was trying to do something interesting. I was never really upset about the inclusion of the Kinect 2.0 however. I probably would have gotten one anyway because I do think the device has potential despite nobody figuring out exactly what to do with it yet. I think when somebody does figure out how to make the Kinect experience work well it is going to be a fantastic experience that I wouldn’t want to miss out on.
I think it shows that Microsoft is still actively listening to its fanbase and I think they don’t get enough credit for making the moves they have made over the last couple of months. (To recap: in the last month Microsoft has decided to allow used games, remove the daily online check-in, add a headset to each console shipped and now remove the requirement to have Kinect attached to the unit at all times.) Some people are going to bash Microsoft for flip-flopping (I’ve never understood the flip-flopping insult. How dare a person be allowed to listen to debate or discourse, process new information and ideas and then make a decision that may be different from their original stance on an issue! To say that somebody shouldn’t be allowed to change their mind on an issue is crazy talk.) and others are going to rip Microsoft for promoting mass-market games like Call of Duty (Again I don’t understand the fascination with ripping large IP’s simply because they are popular and bring new people into the hobby every year) and others are going to be angry because they like to be angry. Some people just can’t be made happy. I think today’s news is going to make a lot of reasonable people happy.
I think this makes both consoles more similar than ever. I think what the next generation console race may come down to the issue that it should have come down to all along....the games themselves. Do you like Uncharted, Killzone and God of War? The PS4 is the console for you. Are you itching for new iterations of Halo, Gears of War, or Forza? The X-Box One is for you. I think that is what the decision really comes down to right now. A lot of the other factors have now been mitigated.
I also think the console interface itself could be a smaller issue. Microsoft knows what it is doing with X-Box Live. It’s easy to invite people to parties and to jump in and out of games. Sony needs to do so some catching up in that department. I think the PS4 will be fine though. Sony couldn’t possibly release something as cumbersome as the cross media bar again could they?