Finally, it seems Microsoft have listened to the masses and have announced that a Kinect-less version of the Xbox One will be available from June 9 for just under £350.
The package will be available “in all markets where Xbox One is sold,” said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. For purchasers of the Kinect-free Xbox One who want the Kinect at a later date, Microsoft will offer a standalone Xbox One Kinect sensor this Autumn.
This June, Microsoft will also debut its Games with Gold program on Xbox One. If your not sure what Games with Gold is, it’s a program that gifts two free games a month to Xbox Live Gold subscribers.
The Xbox One edition of the program kicks off with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. Deals with Gold will also launch in June and will save members money on Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome “and a few other surprises.” The announcement adds that members will now have “subscription-based access” to these games; this suggests that the service will function more like Sony’s PlayStation Plus program.
“In the coming months, we will offer significant savings of up to 50 – 75 percent off certain titles,” Spencer wrote. “This program will continue to be available for Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox 360. And new on Xbox One, we will launch a virtual VIP room exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members where we will feature free games, monthly deals, and other great benefits.”
One membership is valid for both the Xbox One and Xbox 360.
Also, In honor of the program’s one-year anniversary, Xbox 360 owners can pick up an extra game in June — Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition — in addition to Dark Souls and Charlie Murder.
That same month, the company will no longer require customers to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription in order to use non-gaming apps on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Xbox owners will have access to “popular entertainment experiences” with or without a Gold subscription.
“This includes great gaming apps like Machinima, Twitch and Upload, popular video services like Netflix, Univision Deportes, GoPro, Red Bull TV and HBO GO, sports experiences like the NFL app for Xbox One, MLB.TV, NBA Game Time, NHL Game Center and more,” Spencer wrote. “Microsoft experiences including Internet Explorer, Skype, OneDrive and OneGuide will also be available to all Xbox customers.”
According to Spencer, this week’s console announcement shouldn’t be seen as a commentary on the Xbox One Kinect’s success or lack thereof, but rather as one way in which Microsoft is listening to feedback from its consumers.
“We’ve heard that you want more choices from Xbox One. You want a wide variety of options in your games and entertainment experiences and you also want options in your hardware selection,” said Spencer. “To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision. Many of you are using Kinect for Xbox One every day. In fact, more than 80 percent of you are actively using Kinect, with an average of 120 voice commands per month on each console.”
Microsoft launched one version of the Xbox One last November, a £430 package that included the Kinect sensor. That existing bundle will continue to be sold. The Kinect-free option brings the Xbox One in line with Sony’s PlayStation 4, which has been available for £350 since its launch in November with a camera available as an optional add-on.
When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One last May, the company’s original plan was that the Kinect would need to be connected in order for the console to function, because it was “an essential and integrated part of the platform.” Microsoft later eliminated that requirement while maintaining that viewpoint on the Kinect’s importance.