In yet another major pre-launch policy change, Microsoft has decided to let people turn off their Kinect 2.0 while playing games on the Xbox One.
According to Chief Xbox One Platform Architect Marc Whitten, there will be an option to switch the Kinect off through a settings menu. It will still be able to communicate with the Xbox One controller’s infrared sensor, but will no longer respond to aural or visual cues.
The strict always-on policy for the Kinect 2.0 is only the latest in a series of originally stated Xbox One policies to fall under the weight of consumer backlash. News of major corporations stockpiling information (Skype logs, emails, text message, etc.) for the NSA has left people more concerned than usual about their privacy. Coupled with the now-defunct online policy, this exacerbated these concerns.
Hysteria ensued when the Kinect announcement was first made, with some even going so far as to draw comparisons to 1984‘s telescreens. People were putting ketchup on their hot dogs. It was utter chaos. A policy repeal was necessary to completely quell these worries and Microsoft Senior Exec Albert Penello took to NeoGAF to explain:
The thing we all understood, and hence this change, is that there are some scenarios where people just may not be comfortable. We wanted people to be 100% comfortable, so we allow the sensor to be unplugged. And clearly the “it dropped” scenario is possible.
Only Xbox One games that limit the Kinect 2.0 to a supplementary role will be affected by this turnabout. Like the original Kinect for Xbox 360, games that require the Kinect as a basic gameplay function won’t have the option of turning it off.
As of now, Microsoft has no plans to offer a less expensive Xbox One without the Kinect. They’re confident in the pulse-reading, face-recognizing piece of equipment’s ability to change the way we game.
It’s been a bumpy road to launch so far for the Xbox One as it was unveiled and immediately met with harsh criticism. With three months left, it’ll be interesting to see what else changes prior to November.