Kinect-Free Xbox One for $399: It’s Happening

May 13, 2014 by Samantha Lienhard - Leave a comment


We’ve lost track of the number of times fans have argued that Microsoft’s best move would be to sell the Xbox One without the Kinect at a lower price, and most of the time, Microsoft’s only response was to insist that the Kinect was a required part of the Xbox One experience. But Phil Spencer has seemed determined to shake things up since he was appointed the new head of Xbox, and he sees things a little differently.

Today, Spencer made a few announcements, the most noteworthy of which is the new Kinect-free Xbox One. As of June 9, you’ll be able to buy an Xbox One without the Kinect for $399. Since Kinect is still an important feature for many games, the Kinect will be sold on its own starting sometime this fall.

Another piece of news fans will be excited to hear is that Games with Gold is finally coming to the Xbox One. In June, members of Xbox Live Gold will be able to pick up Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault for free. (The Xbox 360’s Games with Gold titles for June are Dark Souls, Charlie Murder, and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition; the third game is a bonus in celebration of the program’s 1-year anniversary.)

One important note, however, is the footnote at the bottom of the page that states “on Xbox One, active Gold membership required to play free games you’ve downloaded.” This suggests that unlike the Xbox 360 Games with Gold model, where you could keep the games forever, the Xbox One program will more closely resemble PlayStation Plus.

Deals with Gold will also arrive on the Xbox One, as will a special VIP room for Gold subscribers, where Microsoft “will feature free games, monthly deals, and other great benefits.”

And finally, yes, the rumors were true: you will no longer need a Gold subscription to access Netflix, Twitch, Internet Explorer, Skype, or many other apps/services previously locked behind the paywall. Check out Spencer’s full announcement to learn more.

Well, this was a welcome twist. Certain decisions have cast a dark shadow over the Xbox One, but Phil Spencer is slowly overturning them. Share your thoughts on these changes in the comments below. If you don’t have an Xbox One, does this make you more inclined to get one?

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Rare Is No Longer Kinect-Only

March 17, 2014 by Samantha Lienhard - Leave a comment

Rare logo

Since 2010, Rare has focused its efforts on Kinect games. It still supports the Kinect and feels the Xbox One would be a lesser product without it, but it’s branching out again and will be making games that use all control schemes.

In an interview with Digital Spy, Rare studio head Craig Duncan said “what the input device is and what the gameplay device is ultimately depends on what game we’re building.”

He also discussed the possibility of Rare returning to some of its older franchises. While there are no definite plans in the work, he and the others at Rare “always look back at it and [they] always look at assessing it.” Additionally, he is “absolutely aware” of the series fans are interested in seeing again. However, going back to the general theme of the interview, he feels it would only be right to revisit an old IP if it’s “the right game for the right idea for the right IP.”

Although he made no promises, this definitely has caught the attention of fans. Who knows what the future will bring–the long-requested Banjo-Threeie? A new Conker game? Let us know the Rare franchises you would be most interested in seeing a new entry for.

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Microsoft Introduces Its Own Siri—Cortana

March 3, 2014 by Staff - Leave a comment


When Windows Phone users get the upcoming 8.1 update, the Bing search feature will be replaced by a personal digital assistant similar to Apple’s Siri. Its name? Cortana.

Although this feature is named after the AI from the Halo series, Cortana doesn’t share her appearance, but instead appears as a circle, with speaking/thinking animations. On the other hand, there are rumors that the Halo voice actor for Cortana will provide the voice of this Cortana as well. You can customize how Cortana addresses you, whether you want it to use your name or call you by a nickname. You can also make sure it pronounces your name correctly.

Cortana will use a Notebook feature to store and access data, and you can choose to let it keep track of information from your emails, as well. It also will use data from services like Bing and Foursquare. In this way, it acts as a combination of Siri and Google Now.

Xbox One players are hopeful Cortana will be used in conjunction with the Kinect’s voice recognition features, and that it could be used to set up and navigate the console. While Microsoft hasn’t said anything about such a plan, this would fit with their goal of allowing players to connect all of their media with the Xbox One.

We can’t be sure that Microsoft is going to keep the name Cortana for the finished product, although that would certainly be cool. We’ll let you know as soon as we learn more. In the meantime, check out some of these shots of Cortana in action, including the line, “I’m absorbing the entire internet. Won’t take long now,” which suggests a sense of humor and playfulness behind this feature.

Thanks, The Verge.

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Xbox One to use More GPU for Graphical Performance?

January 28, 2014 by Staff - Leave a comment


Some criticism has been launched at the Xbox One’s graphical capabilities lately, but we may see an improvement soon.

Currently, 10% of the GPU is reserved for the Kinect attachment, even though many games make limited use of the Kinect, if they use it at all. A new rumor currently doing the rounds is that a patch is on the way which will reduce that limitation to 2%, which will be enough for Kinect to register voice commands. The 8% being freed is the amount reserved for the Kinect’s video functions.

Such a patch would not raise the Xbox One’s graphical performance to the level of the PS4, but it would allow games like Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition to play with a steady framerate, which would improve the gameplay experience for players.

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Xbox One doesn’t require Kinect to function

August 12, 2013 by Staff - 1 Comment


The good news keeps coming for soon-to-be Xbox One owners (see our recent post on sharing digital games and Xbox Live Gold). Marc Whitten, Xbox Corporate VP, has also just revealed that the Xbox One will not require the new Kinect in order to function normally.

This represents somewhat of an (Xbox) 180, as back in May Phil Spencer, Microsoft Studios Corporate VP, told everyone that the console would in fact require the Kinect to be plugged in to function.

Speaking to IGN, Whitten said that while you’ll be able to use your Xbox One without the Kinect plugged in, any features that require the Kinect will obviously not be functional.

You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.

Chalk another positive change up to Microsoft and the Xbox One.

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Why Xbox One Kinect will be awesome

July 26, 2013 by Staff - 5 Comments


Wanna know what one of the greatest things about Xbox One is? It’s the Kinect 2.0. If you already believe that, keep reading. If you need convincing, keep reading anyway because this article will tell you about some of the things you should be excited about.

Kinect for Xbox One offers many things you may not have even thought possible and it can be used in all sorts of ways in conjunction with the console – whether it be in-game, when you’re simply browsing the UI or otherwise.


  • You can control and navigate the user interface with hand gestures. This including flipping, grabbing, dragging and pushing.
  • You can control and navigate the user interface with voice commands. Phrases like “Xbox on, “Go home”, “Snap Skype”, “Watch TV” and “Play game” are some of the commands available. The list is extensive though and will only grow with time.
  • Once you’ve setup your account for the first time, the Kinect will remember your face and link it with your Xbox Live account. It will automatically sign you in when you pick up a controller and load your particular settings, games, etc.
  • Kinect will also recognize which controller you have and which player you are (ie player one or player two). There are no LED rings required to identify you as a player. Kinect recognizes you, your controller and where you are in the room at all times (ie you can move around).


For now, most developers are using Kinect to introduce subtle new ways to control what is happening in Xbox One games. Some examples are as follows:

  • Ryse: you can use voice commands to control entire legions of soldiers.
  • Dead Rising 3: zombies will be able to hear you, and you can also point at an area and use voice commands to tell survivors what to do (cool!).
  • Killer Instinct: when you grab a controller your button assignments are automatically loaded. Give the controller to your friend and his are automatically loaded. It’s that easy.

At E3 there was a first person shooter called “Reflex” that was made specially in-house to show how the Kinect 2.0 can be utilized. Some examples are:

  • You’re about to get over-run by enemies so you raise your controller up to chest level and it raises your shield in game. This enables you to regather and then fight back.
  • Suddenly invisible enemies start attacking you. Your helmet has x-ray vision but how do you activate it? Touch your temple of course…
  • Then objects start being thrown at you, how do you dodge them? You move! So lean left or right and you will strafe, dodge or roll accordingly (I do this already without Kinect!).
  • A boss comes along and your regular weapon isn’t doing any damage. So simply raise your finger, point at him and say “fire missiles”. Guess what happens next…

The thing is, examples like those above are only going to become more numerous, more immersive and better over time as game developers learn what the Kinect 2.0 is capable of and how they can make better use of it in games. If some of the scenarios above have you excited now, imagine what’s going to be coming out a year or so after the Xbox One has been released!

Thanks to XboxOneDev @ Reddit.

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FAQ: X1 internet check-ins, Kinect privacy & game licensing

June 6, 2013 by Staff - 3 Comments


Via the official Xbox Wire, Microsoft has finally come out and told us more or less exactly how game licensing, connectivity requirements, and Kinect privacy will work on the Xbox One (X1). Here’s what you need to know:

Game Licensing

  • Buy any game via digital (Xbox Live) or disc on the day of release.
  • No disc required to play any game – everything is stored in the cloud and accessed through your login (ie play your games at your friends house on his console with your login – hourly internet check-in required for this though).
  • Anyone can play games on your console (regardless of who they are logged in as).
  • Up to ten members of your household can access your “shared games library” from any console at any time using their login.
  • Renting and loaning of games is not possible at launch, but Microsoft is looking at introducing this later.
  • You will be able to trade-in games, but this will be entirely up to the publisher and only at “participating retailers”. There are no fees charged by Microsoft for this (but publishers could).

Internet Connectivity Requirements

  • Your console will “check-in” with Microsoft every 24 hours over the internet. If you can’t or don’t do this, you can’t play offline or online games.
  • If you are playing on a friend’s console with your login (ie to access your games library) then the X1 must check-in over the internet every one hour.

Kinect and Privacy

  • If your X1 is turned on and you are having a conversation with someone, the conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.
  • When your X1 is turned off, the Kinect is only listening for the command “Xbox on” to turn the console back on. This feature can be disabled.
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