Microsoft Kicks Xbox One’s Mandatory Kinect to the Curb, Tears Down Streaming Paywall

‘Delivering More Choices for Fans’

179794-08 Xbox Live Digital Poster-s16_FINAL_620Lots of big news coming out of Microsoft today, but the biggest news of all is probably the announcement of a new Xbox One package that does not include Kinect.

Since Microsoft announced their entry in this generation’s console race, Kinect has by and large been a non-negotiable part of the deal. Not only was it bundled with any and all Xbox One units sold, but you were also more or less required to keep it plugged in, too (unless you’re willing to deal with a nigh-permanent on-screen reminder as a side-effect, anyway). What’s more, its inclusion is largely attributed for the $100 price difference between it and its closest competing neighbor, Sony’s PlayStation 4.

But no more! As of June 9th, it will be possible to purchase a new Xbox One sans Kinect for $399– and yes, as I’ve confirmed, that includes here in Canada, too. Whereas Sony recently increased their own $399 price tag to $449.99 here, that still afforded them a $50 price difference, but no more.

That’s not the only news, however. Previously, Microsoft kept a bevy of services locked up behind their paid Xbox Live Gold program, requiring a membership to use any of its apps– even ones you had to pay for separately, such as Netflix. No longer is that the case, as June will also see anyone who owns an Xbox One and/or an Xbox 360 will be able to access these features whether or not you have a Gold membership. “This includes great gaming apps like Machinima, Twitch and Upload, popular video services like Netflix, Univision Deportes, GoPro, Red Bull TV, and HBO GO, sports experiences like the NFL app for Xbox One, MLB.TV, NBA Game Time, NHL Game Center, and more. Microsoft experiences including Internet Explorer, Skype, OneDrive and OneGuide will also be available to all Xbox customers.”

Personally speaking, I lack a Gold account, and as such I don’t know for myself just how many of these programs are available in Canada; Hulu has been thrown around with Netflix in the news, for instance, but that service is not available in Canada. That said, finding out you had to pay to use Internet Explorer was king of the “what?” moments for me.

However, if you do have an Xbox Live Gold membership, don’t fret over lost value; you’re going to be getting other, better things in its stead (after all, it’s not like you’re actually losing anything by this). In a move seemingly poised to take on Sony’s PlayStation Plus memberships head-on, Microsoft has announced they will be celebrating one year of “Games with Gold” on Xbox 360 with an additional free game in June, with Dark Souls, Charlie Murder, and the bonus title Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition filling out the assortment.

In addition, they’re bringing the program to Xbox One in June with subscription-based access to “free games ranging from top hits to breaking indie stars,” beginning with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. “A single Gold membership will get you access to the free games for both Xbox One and Xbox 360.”

Finally, Deals with Gold will also launch on the Xbox One in June with Forza Motorsport 5 and Ryse: Son of Rome, plus “a few other surprises.” In the coming months, they promise to offer 50 to 75 percent off of select titles, and the program will continue to be available for Xbox 360 users as well. Beyond that, they will be launching “a virtual VIP room exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members where we will feature free games, monthly deals, and other great benefits.”

To see the full announcement, click here to visit the Xbox Blog and view their infographic.

From the look of things, Microsoft will be going into E3 with guns blazing if they’re announcing all of this here and now.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

  • Joseph Smith

    After the debacle that was 2013’s E3, they needed to do something drastic.