“Honey, I think the bed should be on this wall instead.” Sometimes out of nowhere we get an itch to switch things up. While, obviously, Microsoft has been bouncing ideas around for months, to us it seems that they just woke up and decided that May 13 was a special day. With news on news on news, Xbox has gotten everyone talking and I’ve got the adrenaline running to shake the sleepy eyes and weigh in.
Hands down, the biggest news of the day was the removal of the Kinect as part of the package. Mostly because Microsoft had gone on record repeatedly that this simply wouldn’t happen. The dropped support of a mandatory accessory opens a whole new can of worms. This brings on a myriad of feelings on both ends of the spectrum.
In Microsoft’s favor, there are a multitude of potential customers who didn’t personally see a benefit of a Kinect and shunned the device. Now with the device pulled out of the box, they can put their money where their mouths are and buy one. This also essentially matches their competitor’s price of $399 and evens the playing field for all those moms on a budget.
On the other hand, we will lose any potential the device had. Sure, right now the Kinect isn’t making radical changes in how games are played or how we interact with them. Having that camera sitting next to every Xbox One, however, would give creative developers the chance to make that next jump and not worry that a large portion of the player base wouldn’t even touch it. Other than missing out on options to instantly switch apps or record gameplay, this is the saddest part of the announcement.
Personally, I hope to see a trend in standalone Kinect sales after this first wave of shipments. Most of the allure and love I have of my own Xbox One is the voice commands and easy navigating of the console. It makes it feel next gen instead of just a stronger 360. I’ll be interested to see what happens.
Games with Gold/Xbox Live
Praise the SUN! Xbox One is finally getting the free game treatment. With this change came a small, but significant tweak with the service. Any free game downloaded on the One can only be played while being a current Gold subscriber. While before (and still on the 360), you could download the month’s free titles and still play them even if you dropped the Gold services.
This is all clearly in response to Playstation’s current success. While getting to keep the games was nice, if PS is avoiding flak by requiring subs then Xbox might as well join them. Since they already got one foot over the fence, might as well go with both feet.
No longer are Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Amazon, or most of the other streaming services stuck behind the paywall. This is only going to give them good press. I’d imagine they were bringing in very few customers to Live with just these services, so they aren’t going to see a dip in subs (especially paired with the rest of the day’s news).
Win for Microsoft. They are slowly becoming known as a company that caters to their customers. My only worry is that they will listen too much. There comes a point where the customer ruins the product when they get what they thought they wanted. Big MMO patches, new directions for franchises, etc. all have that same balancing act. Enjoy your win today, Xbox, but don’t let it rule you.