From integral to add-on: The troubled journey of Xbox One's Kinect

Almost exactly one year after announcing a new Xbox, a console that was to be integrally tied to the Kinect, Microsoft unveiled a new Xbox One bundle that doesn't include the camera and microphone array.

The new bundle means a $100 price drop for the console, but also the possibility of a fractured user-base for game developers. Follow this StoryStream as we chart the course of the change, its impact and what could happen next.

Xbox One Kinect available by itself this October for $149.99

Microsoft will release a stand-alone Xbox One Kinect on Oct. 7 for $149.99, the company announced today.

The package will include a copy of Dance Central Spotlight, which launches Sept. 2 for $9.99. The game comes with 10 songs; customers can purchase additional downloadable tracks and import music from previous Dance Central titles.

The second-generation Kinect for Windows was released last month for $199.

Microsoft launched the Xbox One last November for $499 with a Kinect in the box. In June,...

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Removing Kinect from Xbox One creates a 'virtuous cycle' with more games, VP says

Making Kinect an optional Xbox One peripheral will create a "virtuous cycle" that will result in more games for the console, Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison told OXM

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that it would release a Kinect-free version of the console June 9 for $399 — $100 cheaper than its Kinect-bundled counterpart. As Microsoft did in its announcement, Harrison framed the decision as a way to give "choice" to Xbox One owners. He believes that the choice...

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MMOs, free-to-play games will remain behind Xbox Live Gold paywall

Microsoft is dropping the Xbox Live Gold paywall for many of its entertainment apps, but free-to-play games and MMOs like The Elder Scrolls Online will still require a subscription, Microsoft head Phil Spencer recently told Joystiq.

The paywall longer impacts services such as Netflix, HBO Go, Skype, Twitch and Internet Explorer. Free-to-play games include Happy Wars and World of Tanks, while The Elder Scrolls Online already asks for a monthly subscription fee due to regular and "significant" updates, on top of the Xbox Live Gold requirement.

According to Spencer, Microsoft "hasn't...

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Microsoft offering pro-rata refunds for Xbox Live Gold once paywall comes down

Microsoft is offering pro-rata refunds to Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners who purchased a paid membership prior to the announcement that the company will drop its Xbox Live Gold paywall for apps come June.

Xbox Live Gold members who purchased a membership before the June update can cancel and receive the refund for unused remaining days between the date of cancellation and the date their paid membership ends. These requests must be made by Aug. 31 and requires six to eight weeks of processing.

Yesterday, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer announced plans to drop Gold subscription paywalls for...

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In light of Kinect-less Xbox One, interface changes in the works

With the Xbox One set to be decoupled from the Kinect next month, Microsoft is working on changes to the console's user interface in an effort to make controller-based navigation more viable, reports Engadget.

Earlier today, Microsoft announced that it will effectively drop the price of the Xbox One from $499 to $399 by offering a version of the console that does not include a Kinect in the box — a decision that goes against the past year of statements from the company about how "essential" the Kinect was to the console. The Kinect-less Xbox One will go on sale June 9 alongside...

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Tracing the collapse of the 'integral' Kinect, in Microsoft's own words

From the disastrous reveal, overshadowed by questions about the console's always-on requirement, to its near-total reversal following Sony's strong showing at E3 last year, to the departure of key Xbox exec Don Mattrick to the decidedly less cool Zynga, it's almost impossible to believe it's only been a year. But one thing was always constant: The new Kinect was an integral component of the Xbox One.

Until today.

May - June 2013

The all-new Kinect is now an essential and integrated part of the platform. By having it as a consistent part of every Xbox One, game and entertainment...

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Microsoft: Dropping Kinect could free up extra processing power in Xbox One

Today's surprise announcement that Microsoft will next month start selling the Xbox One console for $100 less without a Kinect came after a couple of months of serious discussion, said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president for devices and studios.

Mehdi said Microsoft officials spoke with developers and publishers over the past few weeks to make them aware of the change. On June 9, Microsoft will start selling a Kinect-less version of the Xbox One for $399 and a standalone Xbox One Kinect sensor hits this fall.

The news comes almost exactly a year after the Xbox One was revealed on the...

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Is Microsoft abandoning Kinect?

If this is your first episode, Friends List is a daily web series where we have one-on-one talks about a single question related to video games. The goal is to give Polygon's many team members across the globe and those involved in covering, designing and releasing games, an opportunity to speak with you.

Today on Friends List, Editor-at-Large Chris Plante and News Editor Brian Crecente ask: Is Microsoft abandoning Kinect?

Plus, we'll have another episode today at the show's regular 4 p.m. ET time slot.

Enjoy Friends List anywhere, anytime:

Microsoft listens: A Kinect-less Xbox One is the best weapon to fight Sony

Microsoft had a vision for the living room, but that vision failed. Removing the hardware from the package and lowering the price was the best move, and it's great to see Microsoft own up to the mistakes and do the right thing. A $399.99 system with no Kinect is a wonderful weapon in the current console wars.

It's about choice

This isn't to say that the Kinect wasn't a good piece of hardware, or that the company lacked ambition for taking over the living room. What Microsoft wanted to do with voice and gesture controls is very hard, much harder than most gamers gave them credit for during...

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Microsoft brings free Games with Gold to Xbox One, drops Gold paywall for apps in June

Microsoft's Games with Gold program will be available for Xbox One in June, while current Xbox Live Gold subscribers will receive an extra free game and additional discounts, head of Xbox Phil Spencer announced today.

Games with Gold is a program that gifts two free games a month to Xbox Live Gold subscribers. The Xbox One edition of the program kicks off with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. Deals with Gold also launches in June and will save members money on Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome "and a few other surprises." The announcement adds that members will...

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Kinect-free Xbox One coming June 9 for $399

A Kinect-less version of the Xbox One will be available June 9 for $399, Microsoft announced today.

The package will be available "in all markets where Xbox One is sold," said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. For purchasers of the Kinect-free Xbox One, Microsoft will offer a standalone Xbox One Kinect sensor this fall.

This June, Microsoft will also debut its Games with Gold program on Xbox One. That same month, the company will no longer require customers to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription in order to use non-gaming apps on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

According to Spencer, today's console...

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