Commentary: By unbundling the Kinect sensor from Xbox One, Microsoft strips away the console's last differentiating element. The industry and gamers will suffer for it.
A very interesting perspective from CNET in which they proclaim that because the console video gamer dislikes when consoles attempt to be innovated we are being forced into the exact same cycle we were supposed to have just left.
Because by unbundling the Kinect from the Xbox One -- a splintering of the peripheral's install base that may kill Kinect's future and, at best, will undoubtedly hamper game development that incorporates motion control -- we're left with two video game consoles that are essentially identical. Granted, the PS4 has a graphical edge, and the Xbox One cable-box functionality, though the former is entirely negligible to the everyday consumer and the latter now jeopardized given the One's reliance on the Kinect's IR blasting functionality to control your television.
After months of adamant defense of the Kinect's role in the Xbox One experience, Microsoft has yet again reversed its stance, bringing full circle a thorough stripping of nearly every interesting element from its console -- it's daring yet poorly handled promise of a disc-less future and digital resale program; its forward-thinking family-sharing plan; the motion and voice-controlled centerpiece of its entertainment vision. That means that the Xbox One and PS4 are not only barely differentiable from each other, but also at their core offer nothing substantially different than what their predecessors did nine years ago.
The central issue lies in the original promise of the Xbox One, the reality of where we are roughly one year later, and what was accomplished in the collective crusade. We did not need two separate consoles that do the exact same things, play pretty much the same games, and stream the same services you get with a $99 Roku. What we needed were real choices that represented not which console you wanted to play Destiny or Watch Dogs or Call of Duty on, but different systems that cater to wider audiences, provide different use cases, look forward, and aren't chained down to the status quo.
Microsoft tried to escape those confines of the console war and it failed, caving to nearly every demand put forth by the gaming audience with a shoulder shrug and a "maybe one day." Now, the Xbox is back to fighting a battle in which everyone loses.