Kinect Sports Rivals developer Rare has said it would be a "real shame" if Microsoft was to release a version of the Xbox One hardware that did not include a Kinect.
The mandatory inclusion of the Kinect has attracted its fair share of criticism, with many believing that the inclusion of the peripheral is both a drain on system resources that could be used elsewhere and also one of the main contributors to the Xbox One's $100 higher price tag compared to the PlayStation 4. But speaking to GameSpot, Kinect Sports Rivals executive producer Danny Isaac has said it would be a shame to lose the device from the hardware as it helps make games development more diverse.
"I love that there's loads of services coming in," said Isaac. "Cloud-based services, and Xbox Live has done a fantastic job, and as we're getting more integrated with other systems as well. I think that's going to open stuff up. Obviously the controller is great, traditionally, but I think they've done a really good job on [Xbox One]. Second screen? I don't think we've got [SmartGlass] quite right yet, but again you can really start to see these things treading together and opening up opportunities, and now having a microphone and camera."
"20 years ago, I'd have a team that would be going crazy if they had this kind of technology, now we have it and people are like, well, I don't want it, I just want my controller and my screen. It would be a real shame if we lost items like that," he added.
But Kinect is certainly a divisive topic, and Microsoft itself hasn't done much to promote its inclusion with Xbox One--the launch of Kinect Sports Rivals on April 8 feels like the publisher's first real Kinect push for its fledgling console. What does Isaac have to say to detractors of the technology? "There will always be people who don't like what you do. I will always find these console wars really funny as well, personally I have a Wii U, a PS4, and an Xbox 360 and an Xbox One under my TV at home. If you are a real gamer, you get everything. You want to see everything, you want to experience all these different innovations. I just like to experience games. There's always something somewhere, whether it's on PC, mobile, or main console, which broadens my horizons and makes me a better game maker."
But there's also another consideration: how much processing power the Xbox One's Kinect takes up. Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment, for instance, has said that ongoing optimisations to the cost of the Kinect on the Xbox One system resources might even allow the developer to increase the native resolution of the game. Just how much processing power does the Kinect take from the console? "Those things go down all the time, with every XDK," said Rare new technology development lead Nick Burton. "It gets less and less every time, I met with the guy that's in charge of the skeletal tracking last week, and he was like 'yeah, we've halved the cost of the skeletal tracking'. And that will continue to happen."
"If you look back at the Xbox 360, the dashboard got cheaper and better as the system went along," added Burton.
Meanwhile, Isaac insists that working on Kinect Sports Rivals has helped show him the broad appeal gaming can have. "My mother never really understood why I have the passion for games," he says, "and it's so rewarding to see other people, that I care about, to have the same passion for something that I love. And I think with Kinect Sports Rivals, at least with my family, that I've been able to do that. This is what I've put my heart and soul in for two years."
Many gamers have asked Microsoft to sell a Kinect-free Xbox One, but does Isaac think Microsoft will actually go ahead with the idea? "I can't say what Microsoft will do in the future. What I get frustrated about in our industry is, back in the old days, when I used to read Crash and Zzap!64, we used to have a score that was [a review score] for innovation. What Microsoft has tried to do with the previous Kinect, it was what I call 70% magical."
"It was magical 70% of the time, and 30% of the time it was like, okay, that didn't quite do what I wanted it to do. But it was pushing the boundaries. It was trying to do something new. I think as game developers we need to be looking at these things. We can't just keep putting out first-person shooters and sports simulations and those sorts of things."
"So we get this thing and then we get these naysayers who say 'well I don't want it, I just want to sit there with my headphones on and play first-person shooters.' Great, I get that. But come on guys, we're a highly creative industry, we really, really are. But I think movies are doing more than we are in some senses--when you look at things like Gravity and other stuff--and it's like, we've got to get out of that, and we've got to be doing some thing new things or people are going to go and find their entertainment elsewhere."
Kinect Sports Rivals will be released for Xbox One on April 8.