Following its decision to allow the Xbox One to operate without requiring an always-on internet connection, it seems that Microsoft have also made a reversal on the system’s Kinect sensor requirement.
During an IGN user question-and-answer session entitled ‘Ask Microsoft Anything about Xbox One’, one user asks what should happen if the Kinect were to break, citing Microsoft’s previous statement that ‘[the] Kinect must be plugged in for the Xbox One to function’. In reply, Marc Whitten, the chief Xbox One platform architect, explains that ‘like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in’.
While Whitten does mention that while the Xbox One is ‘designed to work with Kinect plugged in [in order to make] gaming better in many ways’, he states that any Kinect-required experiences or games will automatically notify the user and offer the chance to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.
Whitten goes on to reassure another user that, despite fears that the always-on Kinect sensor might collect private data, when the Kinect sensor is plugged in, it can also be ‘completely’ turned off, save for IR blasting, which is commonly used to allow set-top boxes to control other boxes (for instance to change the channel) and which collects no data.
For some the move may be seen as yet another reversal by Microsoft after the company removed the Xbox One’s always-online restrictions. Many commentators saw the move as Microsoft’s attempt to equal the freedom of Sony’s Playstation 4 platform, which was praised by many following its reveal and was used by Sony itself to mock Microsoft’s intrusive DRM.