At this time last year, I was practically a guaranteed Xbox One customer. I’ve loved my Xbox 360 for years and I just couldn’t imagine making the switch to a rival platform, especially since I always thought that the Xbox 360 had better exclusives than the PlayStation 3, lead by the highly acclaimed Halo series. But then Microsoft made a truly bizarre set of public relations mistakes that made me seriously question whether or not I wanted to spend $499 on its newest console.
The most obvious blunders came when Microsoft revealed restrictive new online connectivity requirements and DRM policies for disc-based games without explaining why it needed to implement them to make for a better console gaming experience. This angered the gaming community and allowed Sony to score a major PR coup at E3 last year and set up the PS4 to jump out to an early lead in the latest console wars.
To Microsoft’s credit, it quickly saw the error of its ways and did a rapid reversal on both its DRM and online connectivity policies. However, there was still one major barrier that kept the Xbox One from being truly competitive in terms of sales with the PS4: The added $100 that gamers had to pay because Microsoft was making the Kinect sensor part of a mandatory bundle.
While I admit that Kinect is an incredibly cool piece of technology, I also don’t find it to be particularly useful as far as gaming is concerned. Talking to your console while you’re playing games might be fine if you live by yourself but my wife would absolutely murder me if she had to put up with me constantly shouting out commands to my squad mates in Mass Effect 3. So while I have nothing against Kinect, I also don’t think it’s a piece of technology that’s really worth paying $100 extra for.
Now that Microsoft has decided to unbundle Kinect from the Xbox One and sell the console for $399, I definitely plan on picking one up this summer and I suspect many other on-the-fence Xbox 360 fans will feel the same way. If there’s one criticism I have of Microsoft over all this, it’s that the company really should have made Kinect optional from the start. This should have been an easy sale but Microsoft for some reason decided to make it vastly harder than it needed to be.