As the unexpectedly upheaval-heavy current generation of console gaming continues on, each of the three major manufacturers is adapting in their own way. Nintendo is hard at work on the mysterious NX Platform, while Sony is planning an earlier-than-anticipated upgrade to the Playstation 4 line. At E3, Microsoft revealed not only a smaller, less-expensive version of the Xbox One, Xbox One S, along with plans for a substantially more powerful version of the hardware currently codenamed "Project Scorpio".
However, one element of the Xbox One's original design is being drastically de-emphasized: The Kinect. It has now been confirmed by Matt Lapsen, general manager of marketing for Xbox devices, that the Xbox One S model will not feature a dedicated port for the once-essential peripheral.
The original unveiling of the Xbox One was marked with controversy due to Microsoft's initial announcement of a digital rights management scheme - a proposed feature of the then-new console relating to game ownership and privacy rights; said backlash led to the release of a more consumer-friendly product instead. There were also concerns initially surrounding the mandatory integration of the camera-enabled motion-control peripheral Kinect; an element that had originally debuted to its own mixed reception on the Xbox 360 (being an attempt to replicate the success of Nintendo's then-top-selling Wii console).
While the final Xbox One release did not require Kinect to function, there was still a dedicated port for the device built into the console and it was packaged with some higher-end versions. However, the number of games and apps making use of Kinect functionality has dropped significantly as the system's lifespan has continued, with the removal of a dedicated port on the Xbox One's newest incarnation seeming to signal that Microsoft has all-but given up on the concept. Microsoft's official announcement about the Xbox One S included a related statement from Lapsen, saying "In order to make the Xbox One S as compact as possible and make all of these updates, we removed the dedicated Kinect port from the back."
On the other hand, while the port is gone, Kinect functionality itself will remain. Users wishing to use (or continue using) Kinect software and apps will be able to plug the peripheral into one of the Xbox One S's traditional USB ports by way of a special adaptor, which will retail for $49.99. Microsoft is making the adaptor available for free to gamers who had previously purchased both an Xbox One and a Kinect and wish to upgrade, providing both products are properly registered beforehand.
Left unsaid is whether or not the (near) demise of Kinect means that Microsoft is giving up on motion-control as an Xbox fucntion altogether. The company is heavily rumored to be developing a dedicated VR platform, which would presumably incorporate a new motion-oriented mechanic of its own for use in VR titles where hands are part of the playable experience - though no concrete indications of this have yet emerged.
A limited edition launch edition of the Xbox One S will be made available in August 2016, followed by the release of two standard versions soon thereafter.