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The Kinect 2.0 is a huge gamble for the Xbox One

by William Schwartz

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Where this current generation we saw Sony as the company with the higher priced hardware, in round three of Xbox vs. PlayStation the tables have been turned.   Sony has seemingly learned their lesson and beat Microsoft to the punch, leaving the Xbox One priced noticeably higher than its competition.  The Xbox One is more expensive than the PlayStation 4 for one big reason, it’s because every Xbox One comes with a next-generation Kinect 2.0 sensor.

Over the weekend an anonymous developer at Microsoft took to Reddit to do an AMA (Ask me Anything), where they covered a number of topics regarding the Xbox One and Kinect.  According to the developer, the technology in the new Kinect sensor costs almost as much as the console to make, and it’s the main factor that’s driving up the cost of the machine.

“The majority of the masses care only about the console,” said the developer. “Except that the success of the Kinect carries much more weight to us. The sensor costs almost as much as the console to make.  The goal with having a Kinect ship with every Xbox is to guarantee to game developers if they implement Kinect features into their games, everyone who has an Xbox will be able to experience it. I often see people dismiss the Kinect instantly because they haven’t seen it work like I have. It is an integral part of the Xbox One experience.”

While consumers have yet to “see it work like I have”, there’s a huge risk being taken by Microsoft.  One that has consumers only left with their experiences with the current gen hardware to determine whether having a Kinect is a justifiable purchase.

For many, it isn’t.  The “core” audience hasn’t seen many good uses for the Kinect sensor for the Xbox 360, and it could end up being a feature of the Xbox One package that does more harm than good in getting Microsoft’s longtime fanbase back for another go when the new console launches this fall.

This gamble will play out for both Sony and Microsoft later this year.  On one side of the fence, you have Microsoft.  A company that is forcing the Kinect into consumers homes with the Xbox One.  This comes with the ability to implement system-wide features to be used with the camera, and to give developers a higher installed base to develop for.  On the other side of the fence, we have Sony, who took the other end of this bet with their next-generation camera for the PlayStation 4.  They’ve made it an optional accessory, and can’t implement these system-wide features. They also get into a chicken and egg scenario when justifying developing for an optional accessory.

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