Microsoft is making another Xbox One policy change by allowing gamers to use the upcoming console without Kinect. When Microsoft originally unveiled the Xbox One in May, the company said the Kinect would be a mandatory part of the system that needed to be plugged in at all times. Speaking to IGN, Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten has revealed that it will no longer be required. "Like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in," explains Whitten, "although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor."
It's not clear what forced Microsoft to make yet another Xbox One U-turn, but the change follows recent concerns over potential NSA use of the sensor. While Xbox One owners could always disable the sensor in settings, the ability to unplug it will likely impact game developers. The requirement of Kinect was designed so that developers would know the hardware was always present on an Xbox One system and code appropriately. Without the requirement, future games could lack the Kinect integration that Microsoft has tried to push for its next-generation console.
A cheaper Xbox One in the future?
Although the Kinect will no longer be required, it's unlikely that Microsoft will ship an Xbox One without the sensor initially. The requirement removal does open the door to potential bundles in the future though, especially if Microsoft wants to go head-to-head with Sony's $399 PlayStation 4 pricing.