It’s become difficult to feign surprise at this kind of thing lately, but let’s give it a shot anyway: In yet another stunning policy reversal, the upcoming Xbox One will no longer require the included Kinect sensor to be plugged into the console. The news was confirmed by an update to IGN’s “Ask Microsoft Anything” feature.
In the latest update, Microsoft’s Marc Whitten was asked — under the impression that the sensor was required for the Xbox One to work — what would happen if the Kinect stopped working for any reason. After describing how Kinect enhances the experience, he offered the following:
“That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor,” Whitten wrote.
And not just “plug it in until the system boots,” kind of off — like, super off.
“You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,” Whitten told IGN. “When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.”
This now marks the third major shift in the Xbox One’s functionality. First was the monumental removal of DRM the week after E3 in June, then opening the gates to allow independent developers to self-publish their games. They even decided to include a headset with the console after all, if you want to include a fourth thing.
It’s hard to complain about any of these changes, since they ultimately serve the customer and not Microsoft. Still, it’s hard to forget how insistent the company was on the Xbox One being the future when they announced all of these features were initially revealed.
Ah, well. I think we’ll make it with one less source of information for Microsoft to give to good ol’ Uncle Sam.