In a recent interview between Polygon and Microsoft’s marketing executive Mike Nichols, the “vast majority” of Xbox One owners who have a Kinect still use the voice- and gesture-based camera peripheral on a regular basis.
“I can say that the people with Kinect still make up a very, very sizable portion and that those people do use it quiet frequently,” he told Polygon. “Less for games, but a lot more for biometric sign-in and user interface.”
While the Kinect camera is an optional device on the market these days, when the Xbox One launched in November 2013, it was a mandatory accessory, with Microsoft saying the system required it. Due to a backlash, the console was then sold Kinect-free if customers wanted it, lowering the entry price for those interested in upgrading to the new Xbox.
Of course, with two types of consumers using the Xbox, Microsoft have had to make the dashboard/Home screen accessible to Kinect and Kinect-less users, although it’s much easier with voice commands, without doubt.
“It’s not unlike the situation with Xbox 360, when we added Kinect and you had to design for with and without systems,” he said. “That same part of the decision trees exists now. Now we’re not designing for everyone who has it or everyone doesn’t have it. We’re designing for a good chunk who have it and use it and some new customers who now have decided to get an Xbox One who don’t have a Kinect, at least not yet.”
With Cortana coming in the New Xbox One Experience, voice control will again take advantage of Kinect, with the ability to ask Cortana various questions, about who’s online, and setting up parties and inviting people to them on the fly. You can see that in action in the trailer below.
Of course, Kinect games have been rare on the platform, with Xbox Fitness and Harmonix’s Disney Fantasia offering the best and most active use of the motion controls. It’s hard to encourage developers to make use of the extra functionality, although it’s still used in voice control terms. FIFA now famously penalises you for cursing when playing manager mode, as if to imply your manager’s avatar is shouting abuse at the referee. We are… but FIFA is made to frustrate, so many players turn off the voice recognition when playing.
So, do you still use Kinect? Is it just for voice controls, or do you take advantage of its motion control capabilities and games?