1080p? Dropping Kinect could lead to Xbox One performance boost

"We are in discussions with our game publishers about what we might do in this space," Microsoft says.

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Dropping Kinect from the Xbox One was good news for fans who wanted a less expensive model to purchase, but Microsoft's decision to make the camera optional could have other benefits as well. Microsoft representatives said in media interviews this week that removing Kinect from the bundle could free up processing power that could in turn lead to increased graphical performance.

"We are in discussions with our game publishers about what we might do in this space and we will have more to talk about soon," Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi told Polygon.

For the current $499 Xbox One, some portion of the system's processing power is dedicated to Kinect. A report from Digital Foundry concluded that the Xbox One reserves 10 percent of its total graphics resources for Kinect and app functionality. In an interview with Kotaku, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said developers have told him they want to squeeze as most juice out of the console as possible, and the new Kinect-free Xbox One could be a way to do so.

"I know that developers want to get every bit of functionality out of the box that they can," Spencer said. "In conversations I'm having with our partners, that's something that's come up. We need to land the right plan there so that we've ticked off all the boxes to make sure we understand all of the long-term ramifications, but you bring up an idea and a workstream that we're focused on that makes a ton of sense. It's just about when we're ready to make those kinds of calls."

It remains to be see how Microsoft's engineers would go about such a measure, or what it would mean for the existing $499 model, which Microsoft will continue to sell.

A boost in system performance would help lessen the perception that the Xbox One is a technically inferior console compared to the rival PlayStation 4. Right now, it's not uncommon for Xbox One versions of multiplatform games to run at a lower resolution compared to the PS4 version. Just yesterday, Ubisoft confirmed that the PS4 version of Watch Dogs would run at a higher resolution than the Xbox One version, and that's hardly the first example.

The new $399 Xbox One goes on sale June 9--the same day as Microsoft's E3 2014 press conference.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

357 comments
AstroGazer
AstroGazer

ok - so now no Kinect, no big deal, No 1080P - What is 900P? I never heard of it. I at least now know why my picture looks better on my PS4 than on the xbox 1. I guess it will never work for the newer 4K TVs. lol. But, my big disapointment is that there still are no backward compatibility so at least I can play  some good games on either of them. So far the worst investment I paid for. They sit there collecting dust since there really is nothing new other than Wolfenstein which I finished.

stealthykills
stealthykills

Kinect has always been the reason ive hated the One. Now this? Dropping it might give xb1 performance boost?DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD! Getting an xbox now...

shinjuki
shinjuki

Can you boost the performance?


Has anyone been playing a game, hit the home button, gone to any app, done anything, hit the home button and gone straight back to playing the same Titanfall match?


Seamless.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Would have been nice to know 2 weeks ago before I bought an X1 @ 499

Triton
Triton

Dropping Kinect could lead to Xone sales boost.

H0M3RC1D4L
H0M3RC1D4L

Sounds like a bulls**t sales pitch to me. If this turns out to be true, expect to see graphics settings added to the menus similar to how you can manually adjust your resolution on the PC. The biggest selling point of a console is it's consistency with all consoles performing equally, but you totally destroy that with having at least 2 settings for each game.

mattress805
mattress805

Sony was smart and listened to developers BEFORE their console came out. But better

Ate than never for Microsoft

MondasM
MondasM

i have the ps 4 camera and there is no performance drop on my console, what gives??? :D

e93gsx
e93gsx

Xbox is always playing catchup. PS wins again.

ohara1974
ohara1974

dropping kinect!! now upgrade the GPU with something better......

$400 is still to expensive for an inferior product!

you built an albatross not a gaming rig....

loved my 360 far more than my PS3

hate my xbox one and never turn on my ps4 no games!!!!

the next gen launch that wasnt......

am jumping to the PC gaming world.......i think building my own tower and hooking into my TV and using xbox controller is the direction am heading.......hello steam! where have you been all my life.......

LegendInMyMind
LegendInMyMind

Hope they offer trade ins if they make those changes.

angelofbeast198
angelofbeast198

removing Kinect from the bundle could free up processing power that could in turn lead to increased graphical performance?that makes no fuckign sense what so ever unless there a remaking the console because by saying that,you telling me i can just remove the kinect  from my xbox and will boos it up is the same as not selling it with the system

Martyr77
Martyr77

It isn't really going to make any difference. Xbox One will still be weaker than PS4. Sorry Xbots.

Horndawgie
Horndawgie

Ahhhh good I was wondering about those 3 gigs of RAM partitioned for those Kinect apps. But really, the 1080 60f ps thing is becoming a crutch for this gen that devs will pursue at the cost of true innovation. And this is bad. Very bad. It's not necessary. What is? How about advanced AI routines and game play? A great game is absolutely not defined by it's capability to do 1080 @ 60 FPS. 

TERMINATOR-SSD
TERMINATOR-SSD

QUICK UNPLUG THE KINECT....Only then you can get to 1080p resolution & 60FPS 


Honestly i really dont like Microsofts 180 turn around ideas. first its the no second hand talks, then Boom its all ok, then it was the not supporting indies, then Boom its all ok sort of. Then its about how you need Live to watch Netflix etc etc etc.Then boom its all ok. Then its about how kinect is part of the system and can not be stopped you HAVE to have it. BOOOOOOOOOOOM its all ok....... do any of the people at microsoft know what they are doing lol

lion2447
lion2447

Why are they reserving graphics processing power for the Kinect?  Why not develop a dynamic system that allocates resources to Kinect when it is needed and then free up the resources for games not using it?  Seems like a waste if the game has no Kinect functionality.

Flyin3lvl
Flyin3lvl

hang on hang hang on....

for a true xbox experience utilise the kinect ..... for a true 1080 take out the kinect...... ? ....my brain hurts

HartPuncher
HartPuncher

Graphics were fine On Dreamcast - X-Box - PS2. Games were better! I am sick of hearing about 1080p form teenagers who weigh more than my goddamn car and will be dead at 37! GO outside if you want resolution so bad!

XAF1
XAF1

I don't see how 10% is going to even make as big of a difference performance wise as something bigger. if MS had said 20 to 30% that would make a major difference. It should have upped the graphical processor power when it had a chance before coming to market like Sony did. You can't squeeze what's not there out of the system. If we don't see the difference in front of us, it's a waste to just throw out numbers.

iammcgruber
iammcgruber

So developers would have to make 3 different console versions? One for PS4, one for the 399 xbox one, and then one for the 499 xbox one? That doesn't make sense....

Vylsith
Vylsith

How would it possibly lead to a performance boost?  Unless they are going to require people to disable Kinect in the options every time they run a game that doesn't require Kinect, it's not honestly possible for them gain any resources by unbundling Kinect.  That's also something they could have done before Kinect was an optional purchase.  This is PR stupidity.

H0M3RC1D4L
H0M3RC1D4L

Btw...can anyone quantify what that 10 percent would even mean? Someone familiar with PC architecture and performance mat be able to sort through that.

stealthykills
stealthykills

@MondasM It's because the Eye is't as...um..."overpowered". Kinect was made too powerful than it needed to be :D

hina_ken
hina_ken

@MondasM  The PS4 camera is just that, a camera.  Very little features and functions compared to the extremely intelligent device that the Kinect 2.0 is.


Many developers/creators/designers (as well as some governments) that are utilizing the technology have displayed this in various ways.


A device like this takes a lot more processing power than a webcam or similar does.

hina_ken
hina_ken

@e93gsx  The initial sprint, yes.


Still a looooong way to go before the marathon is over.

Vodoo
Vodoo

@ohara1974  I had a similar idea to you, though I love my XB1, and my PS4 is ok. I bought a $1,350 gaming laptop to check out PC gaming. I ran a 30ft HDMI cable through the walls and ceiling from the desk where the laptop is and it pops out right behind the tv where my consoles are. Then I bought the Xbox 360 controller kit for Windows because using a mouse & keyboard to play games is more work than fun for me. 


After setting everything up I find that Steam isn't as well put together as Xbox Live or PSN. It's a sloppy mess compared to consoles. Steam assumes that you already know how to use it inside and out; like there's no such thing as a new user. 


Then after I got 4 good games, I find that only 1 supports controller use. The other 3 are keyboard & mouse only. Games are also not plug N play. You have to "optimize" the games for 20 mins beforehand to ensure they run properly. 


Needless to say, pc gaming wasn't what I expected. I've been playing consoles my whole life; all the way back to the Atari 2600. And even though I have a computer that can run circles around the XB1 & PS4 all day long, I'll pick the consoles 9 times out of 10. Just keep your expectations in check because it's not as structured and fluid as the pc gamers here make it seem. There's  a lot of aggravation involved in something that's supposed to be enjoyable. I gave it a shot, but sticking with my consoles. Good luck.

glacius_x
glacius_x

@Martyr77 It will make a difference only when both machines have enough games behind it. As of now I see no real advantages of either.

mattress805
mattress805

I hate to break it to you but innovation and risk are not real high up the list for developers in AAA game realm due to the cost to make a game these days. From what I've seen, innovation and creativity is prevalent mostly with independent developers because smaller games have a fraction of the risks of a AAA game

hystavito
hystavito

@Horndawgie  Yes but always remember there is no universal law that says pursuing graphics comes at the expense of everything else.  It's a possibility, not a guarantee.


About AI, I have always felt AI in games got stuck like over 10yrs ago :), not anything to do with pursuing better graphics.


glacius_x
glacius_x

@TERMINATOR-SSD "do any of the people at microsoft know what they are doing lol" Let's analyze what MS is doing and has done. They had mister clap at himself and say ya ya ya, Don at the helm, as i'm sure others who are not part of the integral shot calling any longer.


That group of MS said we are going to make this a entertainment TV etc etc box, and not have any marketing, information, etc on the exacts of the X1. You know the story as i'm sure you were here reading it all and watching E3 last year.


Now we have Phil at the helm, as well as others who are there that were not there when Don was i'm sure. Phil is giving us info left and right, making wise choices, actually listening to consumers, and making all around smart moves. A 180? Sure it looks dire in many aspects.


But in the long run I really think these turnarounds can only be good. People whined bloody murder to get a X1 without the Kinect, then they would buy it. So they listened, so what? Nobody whined when Sony listened to the consumers.


I think for the most part the same gamers that whined before, whined after, then added more complaints on top of it. To put it short.... no more candy before bed, you'll just bounce of the walls. (not directed at you TERMINATOR) just about 90% of the others.

ballinoutactrl
ballinoutactrl

@TERMINATOR-SSD  would you rather them just not do anything? xbox is great they fix everything people whine about i love it. keep crying kids. 

xantufrog
xantufrog

@lion2447 I think it's for snap and voice recognition and stuff - so while you are playing a game you can talk to it and have it take pictures, bring up the sidebar, pause, etc. That all runs through the Kinect software as far as I am aware

paulallen813
paulallen813

Dreamcast will always be one of my favorite consoles as well as the sega genesis...both technically inferior to their rivals. Great games great times

memenotu
memenotu

@iammcgruber No, gamers will still have to have a Kinect for those games that utilize it.


This is just MSs way of trying to get more sales by making gamers think they wont need it on a system that was built around it from the OS through the UI and right down to the games they are having companies make.

r-e-a-v-e
r-e-a-v-e

@Vylsith I was thinking the exact same thing, how in the hell can they get that performance boost when people would still be using the kinect...I don't get it and they sure as hell don't get it either it looks like.

memenotu
memenotu

@Vylsith The Kinect uses up system resources like processing power and memory. Even the apps do because the Windows 8 OS holds some of them in memory so you can call them up while playing a game. All around piss poor design for a gaming machine.


Oh wait, its an entertainment system, I forgot.

H0M3RC1D4L
H0M3RC1D4L

This is what PC owners don't get about consoles. Sure, we sacrifice a bit of graphical quality for the games ported from PC to the consoles, but it makes up for it in the fact it's a consistent experience across ALL the same consoles. Too much "maintenance" involved in PC gaming to make it fun for me, but that is just my preference.

H0M3RC1D4L
H0M3RC1D4L

This is also why it takes so friggin long to start the game...the "parade" of middle-ware companies logos splashing across the screen for like 5 minutes!

bdl1980
bdl1980

@xantufrog Why would you not include the option for DEVS or the consumer to turn this off for better performance if they want it is what it comes down too. 

xantufrog
xantufrog

@paulallen813 yes! rock out a VGA adapter and DC still looks awesome on an HDTV. And my genesis is good times.

xantufrog
xantufrog

@memenotu @Vylsith even then we are talking some ram and a wee bit of CPU - the video processor shouldn't be burdened by those processes if it is designed worth a damn. So lets say they come up with a way of totally flushing those processes on kinect-less games (which would mean reboot them afterwards to resume use of Kinect), I still don't see how this would buy better graphics. Maybe some marginally smoother performance in tasks with heavy CPU and RAM load, but there is no way this hack would boost a 792p situation to something much more

mattress805
mattress805

It's NOT worth 399$. Someone can get a more powerful console withe more exclusives, a better GPU, superior resolutions,and better first part studios, etc with a ps4 at the same price point,,,now 299$ would be worth when gears or halo comes out but that's the end of 2015 at the earliest

memenotu
memenotu

@xantufrog After one of the patches it dropped the Kinects use just under 10% of the systems resources...so no, its not a small amount.

The Kinect is constantly monitoring everything in front of it, both sound AND motion, that is not something that can go without a decent amount of CPU and ram which is one of the reasons why everyone not invested in gaming points out how BAD the system is for gaming.