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Why Microsoft dumped the Xbox One’s Kinect requirement, in the company’s own words

PS4 vs Xbox One Sales

Sony is still winning the PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One sales battle according to market research firm NPD Group, which says that the PS4 has outsold Microsoft’s new console in April for the fourth month in a row. Microsoft sold 110,000 Xbox One units and 76,000 Xbox 360 units last month, a performance that wasn’t strong enough to beat PS4 sales.

Sony has not publicly released sales details for April. The company announced in mid April that it sold more than 7 million PS4 units compared to Microsoft’s 5 million shipped Xbox One units.

Since then, Microsoft announced that it’s going to cut the Kinect from the Xbox One and sell a cheaper console version for just $399. Apparently, the company has been considering the move for a couple of months. NPD’s recent numbers seem to indicate that Microsoft’s price change may have been a very good decision although the company doesn’t want to explain the price change as a result of increased pressure from Sony.

In an interview with Forbes, Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi, Chief Marketing and Strategy Office for Xbox, defended the company’s decision to ship the Xbox One with a bundled Kinect, which shouldn’t be considered a miss or a mistake. According to the company, over 80% of Xbox owners use the Kinect sensor.

He further said that one reason Sony is winning the new consoles war is that the PS4 is available in over 40 markets, while the Xbox One has only launched in 13, adding that because people have been more satisfied with the Xbox 360 than the PS3, there’s less of a need for them to upgrade to a new console.

However, the price gap between the two consoles is still a decision factor for some buyers, and Mehdi acknowledged it.

“That said, we’ve heard from a lot of our Xbox fans who say, ‘Hey look, I want an Xbox One, but at $499, I probably have to wait a little while before I can afford to get one,’” Mehdi said. “I do think we’re going to get people now who move over, and then buy the Kinect later. So I do think the [price point] broadens the appeal and hopefully brings more people to Xbox One sooner.”

Mehdi said that the main reason Microsoft decided to sell a Kinect-less console is feedback from fans, rather than pressure from Sony’s PS4.

The exec further said that even without Kinect, the $399 Xbox One is still better than the PS4, as it has “the best games line-up” with even more games tipped to arrive later this year, it offers “the best multiplayer gaming system in this space for many years with Xbox Live Gold,” and it’s an “all-in-one entertainment device.” Adding the Kinect, which can be done later, would further improve the console with “voice commands, biometric recognition, recording gameplay and more.”

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.