Today is a big day announcement-wise for the Xbox platform. Xbox honcho, Phil Spencer, has been touted as a big game changer for the company, having recently established himself as someone who listens to his customers. Well, he just put his money where his mouth is.
In a new Xbox Wire Blog Post, Spencer announced a couple of major and long anticipated changes to the Xbox platform. Perhaps the biggest of these is the fact that, starting June 9th, there will be a new version of the Xbox One console shipping without Kinect for $399. This means 2 versions of the console, one of which will reach price parity with the PlayStation 4 by removing the Kinect Camera.
This is a major move by Microsoft who has insisted that the Kinect is an integral part of the Xbox One experience. They enforced the bundle in the hopes that ensuring uniformity in the hardware platform would encourage developers to implement Kinect functionality in their games. However, this has largely backfired due to the increased cost of packing in the Kinect, making the Xbox One much more expensive than it’s main competitor.
A Kinectless Xbox One is something gamers have been asking for and it looks like Microsoft has decided to listen. How this will affect Kinect support for future games will remain to be seen. Although they have announced that Kinect sensor will be available for standalone purchase later this year.
The other major announcement is that Xbox Live Gold will no longer be required to run the many entertainment apps available on Xbox Platforms. This has been another highly requested change in policies, since no other platform requires a separate fee for accessing applications such as Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go or ESPN. Now, anyone will be able to access these applications on Xbox platforms without having to maintain an active Xbox Live Gold subscription. We’ve got a diagram with all of the details on what’s Gold and what isn’t at the bottom of the article.
To top this off, Microsoft also announced several new upcoming promotions. First of these is a celebration of the one year anniversary of the launch of Games With Gold. Next month, they will be making three games available for free: “Dark Souls,” “Charlie Murder” and a bonus game of “Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.” In addition to this, they will be making the Games With Gold program available to Xbox One owners as well, with the games “Max: The Curse of Brotherhood” and “Halo: Spartan Assault” available at no cost.
Finally, they are announcing a continuation of their Deals With Gold for Xbox 360 and it’s addition to Xbox One. This will involve major discounts for game and content purchases, up to 75%. In addition, on Xbox One, they are launching a virtual VIP room exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members which will feature free games, monthly deals, and other unspecified benefits.
It looks like Microsoft is making a concerted effort to win over a lot of gamers with these moves, specifically since these are items that have been adamantly requested for some time. With E3 coming up, it seems they wanted to get a head start, but will this cut down on what they have to announce during the big show? Or is there still major platform announcements to come. Maybe they wanted to get this out of the way so they could focus purely on games at the show. Either way, it’s clear that the new leadership at Xbox isn’t afraid to make some big changes to please fans.