Microsoft has let the cat out of the bag today (Or the box, I guess), announcing a slew of new changes. Big changes are popping up everywhere, from Games with Gold, to App Usage, to the Xbox One itself.
The first big announcement came in the from of the Games with Gold system that they began to implement last year for Xbox Live subscribers. Microsoft announced that GwG would be coming to Xbox One, meaning that even Xbox One players will now be able to jump in on the fun of free games as well, starting with Halo Spartan Assault and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood next month. In addition to the free games, Deals with Gold will also be added. This allows players with Xbox Live Gold subscriptions to buy certain games at discounted prices.
The second big announcement came in the form of streaming services like Netflix, HBO GO, and Hulu. In the past, you needed an Xbox Live gold subscription to use these services. When you consider with PSN these services could be used without something like a PS+ subscription, this was a big falling point. This has all been fixed though with Microsoft announcing that a Gold subscription will no longer be required to watch Always Sunny in Philadelphia for the hundredth time on Netflix. ((or 24, “I AM SPECIAL AGENT JACK BAUER”))
The last announcement, and possibly the biggest, is the addition of a new Xbox One on the market without a Kinect Sensor bundled in. One of the biggest complaints about the console in comparison to the Playstation 4 was it’s price point being $100 higher, thanks to the Kinect sensor bundled inside. Now this evens the playing field, making the two consoles the same price. As a business decision, this is a smart move for Microsoft. They will inevitably sell many more consoles now that one of the biggest hindrances, the price point, has been eliminated.
Personally, the exclusion of the Kinect worries me. When the Xbox One was announced, Microsoft made it seem like the Kinect was part of their vision. They said that by including the Kinect, it let developers know that EVERY Xbox One would have a Kinect. This gave developers more freedom to develop with Kinect in mind, knowing that it wasn’t just a peripheral but a part of the system. With this news of a Kinectless Xbox, this brings the idea back to square one. The Kinect isn’t perfect, but to me it was a sign that Microsoft had a vision for what they wanted their console to do. ((Mike: About that vision, ‘Microsoft: Ok ok, we’ll take out the no used game policy. Used games for all! Will you buy it now? No? Fine, we’ll include Titanfall in every bundle. Still no? Shit, ok, I got this, we’ll take out Kinect. No more Kinect. We’ll also let you watch Netflix without having XBL Gold even though you’ve been doing it on your PS3 for the past 5 years. NO?! What if we made Xbox Live free?! What if we included a PS4 in every box?! Would you buy it then?! Oh god please buy it! Bill Gates is going to murder us!)) I understand that by giving the player the option of buying a Kinect-less console, it makes business sense and they will probably sell a boatload more consoles as a result. I just wish it didn’t come at the cost of potential innovation.