Microsoft has just announced that they’re going to be offering a Kinect-less Xbox One, a move that has received mixed reactions within the gaming community. Some feel this has ruined the potential for Kinect and now we won’t see any of the mind blowing possibilities that the Xbox One’s vastly improved motion camera can offer. Then you have those who feel like the Kinect was a waste of space in the first place and that it should have been optional from the start. And finally there’s me, the optimist, the one who thinks Kinect can STILL reach its full potential while offering a choice and better value to gamers. It’s true, Kinect has NOT proven itself yet, but with games like D4 on the horizon, there’s still much hope for the NSA’s favorite camera! –That was a joke–
D4 Can Be The Kinect Game You’ve Been Waiting For
A lot of people feel, now that the Kinect is on optional peripheral for the Xbox One, that it won’t see much support in the innovative ways that we’ve hoped for; I couldn’t disagree more. If anything, Microsoft now has to prove to people that the Kinect is worth purchasing by showing off what it is capable of. It’s almost mandatory at this point. If Microsoft is going to keep manufacturing the Kinect, they need to justify the cost with core games that everyone is going to want to play. The perfect example for me to give comes my personal strife of whether or not I should buy a Wii U. Before Mario Kart 8 I had NO incentive to buy the console, but now that there’s a game I’d absolutely love to play, and more coming in the future, I’m probably going to pick one up in the next week or so. Why? Because there are now games that justify the purchase to me. Nintendo saw sales were weak, so they gave fans who haven’t adopted the system yet a reason to do so, and I believe that Microsoft will do the same with Kinect.
Cute? Yes. Memorable? … Not So Much
Let’s take a journey back to 2010, the motion control hype was in full swing, and the Kinect launched that November. Kinect launched with FIFTEEN games, none of which were memorable –If you take a guess you might throw out a name like Kinectimals or Kinect Sports. My point being, since 2010, the Kinect has not produced one purpose-built, memorable game that wasn’t a dance or fitness game, and even then they’re only good because they require a wide range of motion, not something precise like a hand gesture. This four-year-long disappointment is why many gamers don’t feel like Kinect offers them the value they’re looking for in a next-gen console, therefore they shouldn’t be forced to adopt it if they don’t want to.
Voice commands and navigation are where Kinect truly excel. I’ve experienced this first hand when I conquered my play-through of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Naturally, the game uses the D-pad to navigate between the game’s 4 weapons. But with Kinect, simply yelling “SHOTGUN!” in a tense situation was an amazing alternative to fumbling between which button the shotgun was locked to. Not to mention you can use the game’s voice commands to switch between a gun’s suppressed or regular firing modes — something I don’t even know how to do with the controller. Kinect isn’t a useless spy camera, it just needs to be optimized properly.
That Shotgun Won’t Just Switch To Itself!
The Xbox One as a brand shouldn’t be identified only by the Kinect sensor, and it isn’t, if it was it wouldn’t be doing half as well as it is now. And that’s why I’m glad Microsoft is offering gamers more choices when joining the next-gen family. It should be up to the consumer if they want the optional non-essential hardware, and if the option they’re looking for isn’t available they’ll simply opt-out entirely, or worse, go over to the competition. In addition to offering more choices to gamers, the $400 price tag also proves that Microsoft listens to what the fans want, even if it means admitting what they previously thought to be right was a bad decision — a quality too often absent in this industry.
The Xbox One’s Kinect is leaps and bounds beyond that of the 360’s, but it’s still not enough for everyone to hop on board. I believe it may get there in time, but that’s up to us, the consumers, to decide when that time is. Right now, Microsoft needs to focus on raising the installed base for the Xbox One and showering us with core controller-based experiences. The Kinect will have its time to shine, and if it doesn’t, at least we weren’t all forced to buy into it.