August 13, 2013 by thedavidryan
Microsoft Changes Stance On Kinect
Another day, another dreadful 360 by Microsoft. In what is now becoming an all too common occurrence, Microsoft has yet again reversed one of its key original decisions for the Xbox One. This time the company has announced that the new Kinect, which is bundled in with each Xbox One console, in fact does not have to always be switched on to use the Xbox One console. While this may sound like a positive change, the consequences of this amendment are enormous.
Let The Games Begin
Back at E3 in June, much was made about the impending faceoff between Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Who would deliver the best games? Who would ship first? And who would be the cheapest? These were the most important questions gamers wanted answering. What can I play on my console? How much will it cost? and when will I be able to get my hands on one? While two of the three questions were answered – price and games, the delivery date has still be to unveiled.
This unanswered question was not the foremost talking point from the two conferences however. Instead, the hot topic was the fact that Sony had undercut the Xbox One’s release price by an unexpected £80. This left Xbox fans with the pretty obvious question. Why should they have to pay an extra £80 for an almost identical console to the PS4? The answer; Kinect.
Since day one, Microsoft has pushed that the Kinect 2.0 was the Kinect that the first one had always promised to be. This new version had more impressive features, better functionality and was an essential tool in the Xbox One kit. Kinect was so important to the Xbox One that Microsoft announced that in order for the Xbox One console to work, the Kinect had to be switched on at all times and would be bundled into every box on release day. The Kinect was the single reason for the extra £80.
As expected, gamers who did not care for the first Xbox Kinect were suitably unhappy about having to pay an extra £80 to have this new iteration of the device. Microsoft pursued this idea though and continued to promote the Kinect as the Xbox One’s unique selling point that was definitely worth the extra £80 on the release price. However, that has all changed with Microsoft’s latest U-turn that has left company with egg on their face, a lot of angry gamers in their corner and a lot of explaining to do.
As mentioned above the biggest talking point from E3 was the difference in console price between the PS4 and Xbox One. This was thanks to the Kinect, which enabled Sony to get the upper hand and offer a drastically lower price. But now that the Kinect is no longer essential to the system and with the Xbox One playing catch up, will Microsoft lower their price? Or will they still expect gamers to spend an extra £80 for a device they no longer require to play their console?
Imagine if you were to buy a new laptop, but the manufacturer said “oh you need to pay an extra £80 for this cool mouse mat which makes the laptop work”. So begrudgingly you agree, despite not wanting this £80 mouse mat, then a few weeks later that same laptop manufacturer changes their stance and says “oh actually you don’t need that mouse mat to make the laptop work, but it will still cost an extra £80”. Would you still purchase that laptop?
Much has been made about the other changes Microsoft has made to its Xbox One after its initial reveal. Their stance on game trading and an always online console were ridiculed by gamers and critics alike, and thus forced the company to change their position. But how has this affected their reputation?
Personally, I am a PlayStation gamer. I always have been and probably always will be. Now this may appear that I am slightly biased towards Sony, but it is undeniable that Microsoft have blundered big time with this next generation cycle.
From the outside looking in, it appears that Microsoft definitely do not have all of their ducks in a row. The mixed messages and constant changes with their product are confusing gamers left, right and centre. What is the clear Xbox One message? I read a lot about gaming and even I don’t know anymore.
From the start PlayStation has said they love gamers and they were making a system especially for them. At their console reveal conference, Microsoft targeted the wider market with their TV functions, sports apps etc. and ignored their gaming audience until E3 a month later.
At the minute Microsoft’s reputation has been taking a pounding. From their constant backtracking and decision reversals, to their astonishing statements to the press, the below video being a particular clanger:
The company seemingly has no set objectives of who they want to target and why. Having no clear message has allowed Sony to get a slight advantage in the next generation race with Microsoft having to constantly chop and change their ideas after being so heavily criticised.
Simply put, Microsoft needs to sort itself out and fast. Constant changes and mixed messages have left consumers confused and sceptical about the Microsoft brand. Has Microsoft gone one step too far this time or will their core audience hand over their cash no matter what?
Let me know your thoughts on Microsoft’s latest U-turn in the comments below and has this put you off purchasing an Xbox One this winter?
David is a lover of games and regularly bores his followers with his ramblings on Twitter. If that sounds appealing to you, follow him @TheDavidRyan.