Microsoft's Xbox team announced Tuesday that it will offer Xbox One consoles without the Kinect accessory for $399.99.
The Kinect accessory functions as the camera and motion sensor device for Xbox One's various voice and motion command systems. Several games also feature the device.
The original $499.99 bundle with the Kinect will still be offered. Microsoft still believes the Kinect is an important part of the Xbox One's all-encompassing entertainment experience.
This new stripped-down option levels the playing field for the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. A potential buyer can choose a console based on its merits without the $100 price difference nagging at them.
I would have seriously considered the Xbox One over the PS4 if the prices were the same. I weighed the hardware specifications and game rosters of each system, and it came out to be about even. I just couldn't justify spending an extra $100 on something I didn't really want. I think a lot of people went through this same process.
Most gamers don't have much use for gimmicks. I don't want to play a game with my entire body or turn it off with my voice. I like to sit and play great games with a traditional controller.
Now, there is certainly room for motion sensors and voice commands in the video game world. I can see the appeal in being able to control your Xbox One's various entertainment functions with your hands and voice. I think motion games are pretty fun, especially in a group scenario with a bunch of friends. They just aren't something I look for in day-to-day gaming.
That's why it was such an important step for Microsoft to make these extra features optional. Those who want them can still have them, and people like me can buy a stripped-down version of the console. Everybody wins.
The move should have come sooner. I don't think it is too late for the Xbox One. It isn't that far behind in the hardware sales, and it will be years before new consoles are released. There will be plenty of time for the Xbox One to surge ahead, especially when the new Halo game is released next year.
I love that the announcement came before the Electronic Entertainment Expo next month. The Xbox team could have guaranteed at least a passing grade for its showcase by unveiling the new purchase option at the event, but it chose not to. Now, Xbox will have to wow us with its game announcements, which is a good thing.
I will be interested to see how this announcement affects other video game consoles.
I wouldn't be shocked if Nintendo followed suit by packaging the Wii U console with a more traditional controller and selling it at a discounted price. Wii U sales have been dismal, which is a real shame, given how many great Nintendo game franchises there are.
The more competition there is in the video game world, the better. Microsoft's move forward means that Sony will have to step up its game as well, which is good for fans of both consoles.
If the Wii U could turn the console war into a three-horse race, we could be looking at a golden age in console gaming.
Rory Appleton is a journalism major at Fresno State and a freelance gaming journalist. He can be reached at (559) 441-6015, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @RoryDoesPhonics.