Ah, at last, I can feel the wind through my hair again – no more tin foil hat! The Kinect is not necessary for the functioning of the Xbox One. Yes, it adds features, but (contrary to earlier statements) if you don’t plug it in, the console will still work.
In answering questions from IGN, Marc Whitten, the Chief Xbox One Platform Architect, clarified some issues about the Kinect. While he explains all the benefits of using the Kinect, such as being able to say “Xbox On” or having the console know which controller you pick up, the reality is that this is yet another thing Microsoft have done away with:
That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.
Also, you can turn the Kinect off in the settings:
You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.
So, after all that “it’s integral to the design” malarkey, the reality is that the console will still work. Sure, you won’t have all the bells and whistles, but you also won’t have the NSA watching you do all those naughty things in your living room… unless you want them to. I wonder if this means that we can expect a cheaper version of the console in the future that will come without a Kinect. Also, they will need to sell them separately for all those DIY disasters where people fail to install them correctly and instead smash them to pieces.
In reality, I think the Xbox One and PS4 are more similar than everyone thought a few months ago.
Perhaps, Microsoft knew their console was basically the same. They decided to come out with all sorts of random restrictions, and then lift them as they “listened to the consumer” so that they come out looking even better? Oh no, I thought I had removed my tin foil hat! In any event, it’s good news for everyone – now you can buy an Xbox One without the fear of that all seeing eye!