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Microsoft says Xbox One vs PS4 battle 'isn't about hardware'

Microsoft has brushed off controversy about the Xbox One, claiming it's "not really about the hardware."

Microsoft has brushed off controversy about the Xbox One, suggesting that "Kinect is critical" -- and that the battle with the Sony PS4 is "not really about the hardware."

When you spend £429 on an Xbox One, you pay for a Kinect motion-sensing controller too -- whether you want it or not. But speaking to the Guardian, head of Microsoft Game Studios Phil Spencer stands by the decision, claiming that "Kinect is critical."

"In the end, this generation will be defined by great games and great experiences, none of us should get confused about that," says Spencer, deflecting criticism of the new console. "It's not really about the hardware itself… it's about what's gonna be on screen. That's why people buy a gaming console."

Spencer highlights Microsoft's relationship with developers and line-up of launch games, including Call of Duty, Halo and Titanfall -- as well as FIFA 14, which comes free with the console.

Microsoft has also taken flak over the fact that several features require a subscription to Xbox Live Gold -- which costs £40 per year -- including Skype and Game DVR for recording clips of your game.

Spencer also ducks suggestions that Microsoft should change its plans in the face of complaints from gamers, reiterating that "We're committed to the digital ecosystem that we talked about at the beginning of Xbox One. Absolutely."

Although Microsoft hasn't confirmed a launch date, the Xbox One will go on sale in November -- the same month as the PlayStation 4, launching in the US on 15 November and Europe two weeks later for £80 less than the new Xbox. "Competition is good for gamers," says Spencer. "Head-to-head in the same month? It's going to be exciting."

Should Microsoft rethink its plans? Which gets your vote: the PS4 or the Xbox One? Press start in the comments or insert coin at our Facebook wall.