Comparing the Xbox One today to the console announced over two years ago, it appears to be an entirely different machine. The focus on television is diminished and the originally announced digital rights management practices were quickly altered in an attempt to appease their fans. Perhaps the most telling change is that the base model Xbox One no longer includes a Kinect.
Consumers radically transformed the console, leading Microsoft to announce the ‘New Xbox One Experience‘ set to launch this week. The update will make navigating the system easier than ever, with a new guide, home screen and optimized storefront. Most importantly, the update will include backwards compatibility for 104 Xbox 360 games, with hundreds more promised for the future. All of these updates have been consistently requested by the community and Microsoft hopes these changes will help bring more 360 gamers to the Xbox One.
However, the update will also be removing a navigation feature that’s been present since launch day. Speaking with Windows Central, Microsoft’s Mike Ybarra revealed that the newest system update will remove Kinect gesture control from the console.
“… When we looked at the ‘New Xbox One Experience’ we wanted to prioritize features that customers were asking for, plus areas of improvement from the existing Xbox One UI. Then, we wanted to look at the use-case model of features that take a lot of investment and say, ‘is it worth continuing to invest in that area?
“With gestures, the reality was the usage was very,very low. So for now, we’ve cut that from the New Xbox One Experience .So when we launch on the 12th, they won’t be in the product. We’ll continue to monitor and listen to feedback to see if people want them in.”
The statement left many players wondering if Kinect was being dropped entirely from the platform. Speaking with Gamespot, Microsoft confirmed that most of the Kinect’s motion functions will be kept in place:
“Gesture controls for navigating the dashboard were removed to focus on fan-requested features resulting in a faster and more social Xbox One experience. Kinect motion detection continues to be available for Kinect-enabled games, biometric sign-in, and video calls with Skype for Xbox One.”
The discontinued gesture controls shouldn’t come as a surprise to current Xbox One owners. While the technology is exciting on the first try, it quickly becomes clear that gesture control is the least efficient way to navigate the console. That fact, coupled with Microsoft’s decision to no longer bundle the Kinect with the console, indicates that there’s little chance the community will demand the return of the feature. Removing gesture controls hinders very few Xbox One owners, but the increased speed of the dashboard will benefit everyone while Microsoft brings the console further in line with consumer expectations.
The “New Xbox One Experience” debuts on November 12th, 2015.