Microsoft Didn’t ‘Listen’ To Fans About Kinect

A lot of interesting narratives popped up surrounding Microsoft’s announcement that it was (finally) offering its Xbox One without the Kinect.

But Microsoft never “listened” to players. What it heard loud and clear was the sound of people purchasing Playstation 4s over Xbox Ones.

Everything from “Microsoft will have new life in the console wars,” to “Sorry to see the Kinect go,” to “It’s about time,” to “What about the poor Kinect developers?” flooded through my Twitter feed and popped up in articles and blog posts.

But chiefly, it seems, there are a lot of people saying, “Microsoft finally listened.”

“Listened” is a term that’s a bit nebulous under these circumstances. “Listened” is meant to refer to Microsoft finally capitulating to reason rather than force a $100 piece of hardware into the hands of Xbox One buyers, something those buyers have been asking Microsoft to change since the console was announced. “Listened” implies Microsoft taking into account the desires of its customers, considering their point of view, and using that information to make a decision, or a compromise. “Listened” implies respect.

But Microsoft never “listened” to players. What it heard loud and clear was the sound of people purchasing Playstation 4s over Xbox Ones.

It’s the numbers to which Microsoft is listening. Launching a console with a $100 bump in price over its competition, with features and offerings that seem to fail to appeal to its core customers, has been a losing move. Microsoft is looking to right the ship, but it’s ridiculous to pat it on the back or give it a round of applause. Microsoft never had you in mind when it decided to drop Kinect; it’s just responding to a failed gambit and unloading the Kinect anchor before it takes the whole ship down with it.

The gaming community has this ever-present problem of confusing sound business decisions with friendly moves by friendly people, and it really does need to stop.

Now, that’s a sound business decision, but the gaming community has this ever-present problem of confusing sound business decisions with friendly moves by friendly people, and it really does need to stop. It’s the same as Microsoft’s decision to remove apps like Netflix from behind the Xbox Live paywall. That’s not Microsoft doing you a favor; it’s another area in which Microsoft was getting beaten by Sony, and in which Microsoft thought it could scrape up a few more bucks. And Sony, in turn, made the change so it could beat Microsoft, not because Daddy loves you more than Mommy.

Keep in mind that Microsoft had a number of anti-consumer policies at the ready for the Xbox One, and has abandoned all of them. Oppressive digital rights management that limited game resale or even lending, digital versions despite selling discs, the always-on Kinect, the always-on Internet connection — all of them were in the originally announced Xbox One. Kinect itself is the last vestige of a console most people didn’t really want, full of features they didn’t want. But again, the narrative of “Microsoft’s doing you a favor by providing choice,” is not the full story.

It is a good thing that Microsoft unloaded the Kinect, and some of the other stories people are telling that are attached to it — that the Kinect will now fail, that there are developers working on Kinect titles who are being left in the cold by Microsoft, that this generation will now be a carbon-copy of the last with nothing to drive innovation — are similarly overblown. Kinect was a piece of hardware that players didn’t want and Microsoft was cramming down their throats, and all the cramming didn’t do anyone any good. Those sad tiny violin songs you’re hearing? They’re hallucinatory.

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20 Comments on Microsoft Didn’t ‘Listen’ To Fans About Kinect

kevin

On May 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Well , it happened now it’s time to move forward watch them make it up it consumers with a ton of game at E3. 2014 .

John Nemesh

On May 15, 2014 at 1:53 pm

The problem is, without Kinect, the Xbox is “just a game console”. You lose most of the functionality that MS touted as being superior to the competition. So now, all they are left with is an underpowered console that costs the same as the competition and has ZERO benefits other than exclusives like Halo and Gears of War. And lets face it, most of the people who are REALLY into those tired franchises already either bought an Xbox 1(80) or were planning to anyway. The majority of consumers who have yet to buy a “next gen” console won’t be swayed by either the Kinectless version or by the lame exclusives that MS is going to announce…they will simply go with the console that offers the better value…and right now, that is most definitely a PS4.

R.J.

On May 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm

It’s the same thing as the sudden turn around after E3. Microsoft said, “We heard you loud and clear,” but what they really heard was Sony blasting them on just how stupid most of those “features” were.

sdgae

On May 15, 2014 at 2:07 pm

If I can pull anything from this turd of an article it’s this. Sony is god, they listen to everyone, Microsoft is bad, they never do anything for the consumers even though the actions are a direct positive to the consumer. Look, heel, you just got a bowl of ice cream, are you really going to about it? Who cares WHY it happened by happy that it DID happen. Why is it that people assume the PS4 is this amazing device that’s “for the gamers” (conveniently having less good exclusives, less features, and a terrible network) but the Xbox One is the anti Christ. We get it, they messed up, and you know what? They fixed it, so quit your crying.

If the PS4 was “for the gamers” Sony wouldn’t have had DRM plans in place only to be removed if the competition had a bad reaction (that’s why the conference was so vague, and why E3 was nothing but pot shots). The PS4 is what it is because Sony changed their view from the PS3. The PS3 was Sony’s arrogance in full force, the PS4 is the opposite as it stands now. The Xbox One was doing the same thing, they just managed to change the horrible stuff before it was too late.

For the love of gaming quit complaining about good things, you look stupid.

DIrk

On May 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm

It doesn’t matter whether they listened to players or the strategists telling them if they want to be relevant they need to drop the price, drop Kinect and start being competitive or have spent a lot of money for research and development and lost customer brand loyalty for an eventual paperweight. I doubt it is a coincidence that the change in attitude coincided with the new guy taking over. It could have been him listening to fans or the accountants they said we need to make a change. What they should have done is drop the price, but kept Kinect in the box. Microsoft has so much money in the bank they probably wouldn’t have needed to worry about it. So instead of 2-3 years they now have to wait 5-6 for there Kinect vision to be profitable. Big deal for a company with billions in the bank – I think not no matter what Microsoft tells you.

Matt

On May 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Wow an intelligent and insightful article, are you sure you’re a game journalist?

S

On May 15, 2014 at 3:09 pm

@sdgae: I’m not sure I got that tone from this article. It focused on Microsoft because that is the topic at hand, but the author also did a good job of pointing out Sony also is doing stuff for competition reasons:

“That’s not Microsoft doing you a favor; it’s another area in which Microsoft was getting beaten by Sony, and in which Microsoft thought it could scrape up a few more bucks. And Sony, in turn, made the change so it could beat Microsoft, not because Daddy loves you more than Mommy.”

Fatrt

On May 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm

sdgae’s comment = confirmation bias. Nothing more, nothing less.

Matt

On May 15, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Finally a article that doesn’t make Microsoft sound like a hero for doing something that actually benefits them more than the consumer. It benefits them by allowing a price drop to bring in more consumers into their fold, and many articles, minus this one, made them look like they were only doing it for the sake of the consumers wants/needs.

I never bought an xbox one, or a ps4, because neither of them really seemed to show innovation. New controller designs? Awesome, but that’s nothing new, tweaking a few things to make the sticks better, the controller lighter, the battery less intrusive, is all about comfortably and functionality, but it did nothing new. An integrated microphone for voice commands would have been innovative. PS4 – A light bar and a screen, that was different, it’s not the Wii U’s innovative controller. Nintendo has been the only one to try new things, even if it does seem weird or useless. The 2DS was more innovative than either of these consoles.

If MS and Sony really want to step up their gaming market, they’ll hurry up with upgraded versions of both consoles with better specs, or MS could at least do that digital game sharing thing. If anything, I think that the next generation should show more innovation that this generation (Xbox One & PS4) just because they changed architecture, which allows for them to actually incorporate the pc market of parts into their systems which advanced faster than their proprietary design teams can advance. The only thing that can save these consoles is games being created that are fresh, interesting, with a high replay value (ie less remakes or reboot of old or tired franchises). Just my two cents on the subject.

escopablobar

On May 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I echo every sentiment here. Neither MSFT nor Sony can be considered organizations of beneficence or philanthropy. Behind every decision there is a profit motive. Phil Spencer doesn’t give 2 sh1tes about consumers beyond discretionary income. If there wasn’t outcry and resistance to MSFT’s DRM and used games initiatives, EA, Sony, Activision, Ubisoft et all would have followed suit without any moral or ethical conflict. We need to remember that corporations are beholden to shareholders and government regulation only. We are a distant third and we only count when we are or aren’t buying their products.

I wish everyone could see that these companies do not and cannot love you or hold your interests above the interests of stake holders. Stop forming these unhealthy, un-reciprocated relationships with soul-less corporations.

Squinty

On May 15, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Great article. Actually a worthwhile read, something that becomes rarer and rarer in today’s gaming media.

andrenaliner

On May 15, 2014 at 7:28 pm

I was one of a handful of people who liked the kinect 2. I guess i was just one of the poor insane people.

Phil Hornshaw

On May 15, 2014 at 8:58 pm

@andrenaliner

Nah, you’re just the Kinect market, and that’s cool. Continue enjoying Kinect. It’s not like it dropped off the face of the earth, despite what some are writing. There are a lot of people like you — just not all of us want to own it, that’s all.

quicktooth

On May 15, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Microsoft made it awkwardly and painfully clear it hates it’s customers and treats them like sides of beef at the launch of the Xbone. They literally did everything possible to show it. Create a Big Brother surveillance device? Check. Evade and lie when people called them out on it? Check. Stop people being able to do things that normal people do together in Microsoft’s self-percieved little slice of the world? Check. Charge more than the competition for the ‘privilege’? Check. Lie and lie again about how “necessary” their attacks on consumers were and simply insult all their paying customers when they (nearly all) cried foul at the attacks? Check. Microsoft cannot have been more offensive, dangerous, and tone-deaf if they tried. And their Special Person In Charge has now been fired. And their “necessary” attacks have all stopped. And so on. I think people *want* the gaming industry to be A Good Place so much that most have become wilfully blind to what I can only call the rampant evil in it. It beggars belief that so many have taken the Xbone into their homes. That’s a testament to human desperation and blind loyalty if ever there was one. If your fridge, if your *bed* was literally SOLD to you as a device that was always watching you, would you buy one? Ever? No other industry (exept perhaps the movie industry) is like this. We need to respect ourselves, and we need to start doing it *fast*. You win no awards in supporting those now forced to stop attacking you (forced, due to simple logistics). You aren’t a better person and the world isn’t better off if you shop with the people who want to attack you (but presently can’t). Just… buy PC, or anything else, really. PCs are more or less identical to consoles anyway, since the last generation. If you beg to be attacked, to be exploited, that is exactly what you’ll be. If you immediately buy from your enemies when they *can’t* hurt you anymore, you’ll simply prove your addiction/blind loyalty/stupidity. And they’ll try attacks again, in a different form. Please, everyone, you are worth something, too.

T. Jetfuel

On May 16, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I remember when [redacted] jacked up the price of [redacted] DLC, there were some angry [redacted] who were saying that it was all the fault of “entitled whiners” who had pissed off the corporation in question, and surely they would have “given us” the DLC in question for a lower price if we had just behaved.

It’s sad, really. People are so desperate for parent figures.

Oh, and good riddance to Spycam 2.

Dratkin

On May 16, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Too late. I have given up on Microsoft. Soon PC games will not even require windows any more.
It can’t happen fast enough in my opinion. I basically feel the same about Apple.

Jeff Kaos

On May 24, 2014 at 10:35 am

This is what I like about Game Front: they’re not afraid of taking the games industry to task and taking the side of gamers. Now if you could only get your crap together and make user friendly website. Your podcast is really good too.

Sam

On May 25, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Isn’t there something to the point that microsoft/western dev is not nintendo, and neither is it’s programming. Also there was no standardized functionality for kinect on 360, some had it, most didn’t….why would you bother creating something above dancedance/sports game in that situation.

The one had it so that every household that had the unit, had that functionality….i don’t think you can accurately predict a complete lack of interesting development even integrating only some features, or a refinement of how they are used. I still feel this is a shame actually…how much is the price expected to drop?

hobo

On May 26, 2014 at 5:05 am

Greed, the world is drowning in it…

Sean

On June 10, 2014 at 7:24 pm

I like what Kinect is supposed to do for people and wanted to see MS improve it but what is happening now doesn’t help. I don’t like the idea of them just tossing it aside now so gamers can get 10% more performance out of the console. How about making the hardware good in the first place and making sure that 1080p / 60 fps was going to happen at launch while still having Kinect with it? Sorry MS but I am not buying an Xbox One until there is a hardware revision and I don’t expect you to do one for a long time or really never as current owners would be very mad so I guess I have to say I will never own an Xbox One.