Microsoft has made sure to keep the most prominent of Xbox One’s policies rather malleable in the months leading up to the console’s release.
After reversing policy
about the Xbox One’s online connection requirement, and then changing its stance
on self-publishing, Microsoft has now said that the next-gen Kinect no longer has to be connected to the console in order for it to function.
The latest change came via Microsoft’s Marc Whitten, who told IGN
, “the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.”
When the Xbox One was unveiled in May, Microsoft said it would have to connect via the internet at least once a day, that publishing would work as it did with Xbox 360 (i.e. no self-publishing) and that the Kinect sensor would have to be plugged in at all times. All of those policies have now changed.
Microsoft has made no mention of selling an Xbox One bundle that excludes the new Kinect, and has stressed that the motion sensor remains a major focus for the company’s next-gen console plans. A cheaper bundle could bring the $500 Xbox One closer in price to the rival $400 PlayStation 4, also launching this year.
An always-connected machine that can essentially see and hear what’s going on in your living room also caused some privacy concerns among potential customers. Microsoft's Albert Penello stated on NeoGAF
, “The thing we all understood, and hence this change, is that there are some scenarios where people just may not be comfortable. We wanted people to be 100 percent comfortable, so we allow the sensor to be unplugged.”
Users will also be able to control Kinect’s privacy settings via Xbox One’s user menu.