Despite Microsoft removing Kinect from some Xbox One bundles, the company remains committed to the camera technology, according to executive Phil Spencer. He says in a new interview that Microsoft has no plans to abandon Kinect, explaining that it remains a "great part" of the overall Xbox ecosystem.
Spencer pointed out that Microsoft just recently updated its Upload Studio movie-making app with virtual green-screen support. He went to pledge even further investment in Kinect going forward.
"We'll continue to build functionality to make it a valuable part of the ecosystem," he explained.
As for why Microsoft decided to offer an Xbox One bundle without Kinect, he said it came down to Microsoft wanting to be more price- and option-conscious.
"Price point's really important for the console -- we saw that over the holidays in the UK and US, where we did well when we dropped the price, which was great," Spencer said. "And I want to make sure consumers have choice on how much they value the functionality of Kinect when they buy a console. If you want to go buy a Kinect console [bundle], then they're still available. I think it's a great part of the ecosystem. And if you want just a console, and either add Kinect later, or Kinect's simply not something you're interested in, we give you that choice as well."
Kinect-free Xbox One bundles currently start at $350, compared with $500 for systems with the camera packed in. When the Xbox One was originally released in November 2013, gamers had only one option: a $500 Xbox One package that included a Kinect camera.
While the rival PlayStation 4 may still be the top-selling new-generation console, it appears Microsoft's pricing moves and various bundles have helped boost sales. In April, the Xbox One outsold the PS4 in the United States.
Looking to the future, Spencer said Microsoft's internal teams are continuing to experiment with new ways to use Kinect as a means to improve the overall Xbox experience. But don't expect to see a gesture-controlled Halo or Call of Duty game anytime soon, he said.
"There are genres where Kinect works really well, but if you're playing Halo or Call Of Duty, there's not really a scenario that says, 'Hey, I need a Kinect,'" Spencer stated.
Finally, Spencer teased that "there are still announcements to come" regarding new Kinect experiences, though he didn't share any more details. Microsoft's E3 2015 briefing is slated for Monday, June 15, starting at 9:30 a.m. PDT.