As promised, Microsoft's Xbox One without an included Kinect is on sale today.
Customers can buy a new Xbox One without the Kinect motion-gaming sensor for $400 (£349 in the UK, AU$499) starting Monday, representing a $100 discount compared to the company's bundle that includes the peripheral. The $500 Xbox One bundle (£399, AU$599) that includes the Kinect is still available.
Microsoft's decision to sell the Xbox One without the Kinect was an important move for the company. Xbox One sales have been slower than anticipated, and right now, Sony's PlayStation 4 is easily outpacing Microsoft's latest console in overall sales. In April, Sony announced that it had sold to consumers 7 million consoles, while Microsoft announced that it had shipped to retailers 5 million units, putting a considerable gap between the two devices. It's possible that the Xbox One's hefty launch price tag -- $500 compared to $399 for the PS4 -- led some gamers to move to Sony's console.
Microsoft's desire to bundle the Kinect into its Xbox One wasn't necessarily to boost revenue. The company has invested heavily in its Kinect sensor, which allows gamers to use both gesture controls and their voices to control on-screen action. In order to get developers to fully adopt Kinect and use its technology in their games, Microsoft needed to know that gamers had the sensor. By bundling the Kinect with the Xbox One, developers could be assured that gamers had the device and could build that functionality into their game titles.
The issue for Microsoft, however, was that the Kinect bumped up the price of its bundle. Microsoft tried valiantly over the last several months to make the argument that its console bundle, which included the Xbox One and the Kinect sensor, was a better value than the stand alone PlayStation 4. The PS4's somewhat similar $59 PlayStation Camera is optional. Consumers, however, appeared to have only looked at the price tag, which hurt the Xbox One's overall sales.
With the Kinect now out of the bundle, it's hard to say what the future for the sensor might be. Now that developers aren't sure whether some gamers have Kinect or not, they can't necessarily build games that rely heavily on the technology. That, in turn, could create a scenario in which the Kinect features in games become more unnecessary additions than actual integral components in the titles.
Whatever the case, Microsoft will most assuredly talk more about the Kinect and the Xbox One later on Monday when it holds its E3 press conference. As always, CNET will be there to cover every last second.