Finally. Microsoft has finally balked on yet another major issue behind the XBox One: the mandatory inclusion of the Kinect hardware, mandating a considerable $100 price increase.
Now the console has a much more reasonable price point, and the ‘Big Brother’ device is an optional add-on. Gamers, rejoice; your voices were heard – albeit months later.
The hubbub over Microsoft releasing a Kinect-free Xbone should be mostly positive. There is, however, another side to the issue. Mainly in the form of developers making games that heavily rely on the Kinect. This statement from Harmonix sums it up pretty handily:
“As avid gamers, we’re excited for fans to have more choices out there. As game makers, this platform change doesn’t affect our strategy – it reinforces that we must continue to focus on building innovative, compelling and well-designed motion experiences to motivate consumers to buy our games. We believe that tightly-crafted motion games can be great, genre-defining interactive experiences, as we’ve proven with the Dance Central franchise on Kinect for Xbox 360, and we’re eager to prove it again with Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved this fall on both Xbox One and Xbox 360.”
While developers might be grumbling, Harmonix nails it on the head: it is up to developers to incentivize customers to buy their games and the hardware that supports them. Gamers do not always need to be told what they want.
Developers want gamers to use the Kinect in their game? They want to make a game that requires motion controls? Make a great game. Force gamers to look at an upcoming title and say, “Holy shit that game looks so amazing I have to get a Kinect.”
Why force gamers to buy hardware they don’t want or need? If you’re not a fan of motion-based games, you wouldn’t want a Kinect. The forced inclusion also gives developers a reason to try and force motion-based gameplay in their lineup to take advantage of the hardware – whether it makes sense for the game or not.
Why would Microsoft take so long in responding to their consumers’ wishes?
Imagine this: Microsoft releases the XBone, but no one buys it. There seems to be this expectation that companies release new hardware, and it is guaranteed to be bought. Despite the controversial decisions around the XBone’s release, it still sold relatively well.
But what if it didn’t? What if gamers, fed up with Microsoft (and other companies) dictating what they want, declined to purchase this latest console?
The reaction would be a true joy to behold. But reality is less entertaining, and swarms of gamers – probably including at least some of the same ones that took to online forums to complain about it – purchased the XBone despite the major concerns. Despite being forced to set up the Kinect. Despite the “always online,” “24-hour check-in” drivel that Microsoft pushed unnecessarily into the device.
The reason: games. The games that the XBone promised were worth the high entry price for the console. It was worth spending an extra 100 bucks for a motion sensing device that might not even be used because of the prospect of the titles to come.
That reason, like the song, remains the same. Now gamers no longer need the Kinect to use the XBone, and if a true, smash hit that makes excellent use of the Kinect comes along, gamers will buy it. That hasn’t really happened yet. So sorry, gamers who bought the XBone already. You’re out 100 bucks.
Gamers – the consumers – and their desires should be driving the decisions made by devs and pubs. Even if those desires are as vague as “a great game.” Leaving the specifics of that up to devs is fine. Knowing that companies are businesses and need to make money is fine.
Ignoring what consumers want and forcing them to buy something they don’t need? That’s not fine.