The Xbox-related news is pouring out today. First came the report that Xbox Live members may no longer need to upgrade to Gold subscriptions just to watch streaming videos. Now comes the announcement that the motion and voice-sensing Kinect is not so vital to the Xbox One as Microsoft had originally envisioned.
When Microsoft launched the Xbox One in 2013, it claimed that the new Kinect would be a massive improvement on its Xbox 360 version and that it would be fully integrated into the console since the two were developed in concert. However, as most people with an Xbox One can tell you, the Kinect still remains a clunky, semi-functional add-on that still doesn’t respond well to voice commands and whose game integration is often still an afterthought.
And so Microsoft announced today that starting June 9, it will be selling a Kinect-free version of the console. At $399, the Kinect-less Xbox One will have a price that more closely matches the $400 sticker price of Sony’s PS4, which doesn’t come with a motion sensor/camera thingy as standard hardware.
This removes a rather sizable price barrier for customers trying to choose between the two new-generation consoles, and also should give some relief to those Xbox fans who had privacy concerns about an always-on Kinect sensor.
The official Microsoft announcement also confirmed the earlier report that Xbox Live users will no longer need to upgrade to Gold-level memberships if they want to watch Netflix, Hulu, MLB.TV or any of the other streaming services that are available through the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
In even better Gold-related news, Games with Gold — the program that gives Gold members access to download a few free games each month — will soon expand to the Xbox One, with the first titles being Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault.