Even after sleeping on it, I’m still trying to wrap my head around yesterday’s news that Microsoft will start selling the Xbox One without the Kinect in June. There are so many angles to this story that it’s hard to know where to start.
Well, I suppose I should start with the most obvious question, being that this move seems tailor-made for me in particular*: Am I now more likely to purchase one? Well, it’s certainly got my attention, that’s for sure. I’m still a very happy PS4 owner, even if the games aren’t quite there just yet, but I’m also a long-time Xbox loyalist, and I’m not against owning one – as long as there’s a good reason. Bringing the price down goes a long way towards making the purchase easier/more justifiable, but it doesn’t solve all the problems the XBO has.
One of those problems – and, indeed, probably one of the biggest reasons why I haven’t bought an XBO yet – is that multiplatform games receive a noticeable, measurable performance boost on the PS4. With this new, Kinect-less XBO, however, there are reports floating around that the XBO could now theoretically devote extra resources towards game performance, now that it doesn’t have to save those resources for the Kinect.
If this helps to bridge the performance gap with the PS4 as far as multiplatform releases are concerned, that’s also a plus in my book. But this now reminds me of the early days of the Xbox 360, when it launched without a hard drive. 360s that had hard drives performed better, and games that were designed with the hard drive in mind obviously make life difficult for 360 owners without one. So, then – what happens to XBO owners who already have the Kinect? Would they not be able to get these hypothetical performance advantages? Would the XBO be smart enough to turn the Kinect off if, say, Titanfall 2 or Halo 5 required the extra juice?
That obviously doesn’t concern me, specifically, since I’m not one of those people. Except that now I can’t help but wonder if it might be better to hold off until Microsoft comes out with a new and improved XBO model in a year or two, with improved specs (and a Kinect-less design philosophy) that can directly compete with the PS4? This is not unheard of, as both the 360 and PS3 went through a few redesigns, though those were mostly cosmetic. But in this case, Microsoft – who is clearly trying to right its perceived wrongs as quickly as possible – might very well put out an XBO with specs that could go toe to toe with the PS4, thus ending the performance gap once and for all.
I still maintain that exclusive games are the key to getting my money, and right now the PS4 has the better-looking lineup – especially as far as the indie scene is concerned. But if Microsoft is making this announcement now, a month before E3, one has to assume that they want their E3 presentation to be as positive, forward-looking and with as much emphasis on games as humanly possible.
So, then: this looks like it’s going to be yet another really interesting E3.
* In an interview with Forbes, Yusuf Mehdi, a senior officer at Microsoft, specifically says:
“People have been more satisfied with the Xbox 360 than the PS3, so in that respect people have less of a need to upgrade in the short-term due to regular updates for the Xbox 360…”
This is 100% true. I still kinda mess around in GTAV on my 360 every once in a while, and I do intend to see that last bit of Mass Effect 3 DLC that I’ve not yet gotten to. Meanwhile, my PS3 is currently acting as an extra BluRay player for the bedroom TV. Given that we do not watch BluRays in our bedroom, and also given that we have a Roku in there as well, I literally haven’t turned my PS3 on since I moved it in there to make room for the PS4.