Including Kinect was 'the right call,' says Microsoft exec

Despite the decision to untether the device from the console, Xbox chief marketing and strategy officer Yusuf Mehdi still says including Kinect in the Xbox One was a good decision.

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Despite the decision to ultimately remove the Kinect from a retail version of Xbox One, chief marketing and strategy officer Yusuf Mehdi still thinks bundling it was "the right call." In comments recently, Mehdi argued that the usage stats back up their idea that most people who have a Kinect use it.

“I think it was the right call to bundle with Kinect,” he told Forbes (via IGN). “In the beginning of a new console generation, you’re trying to set the bar for a new experience, and I think we did that with Xbox One. The proof is really in the usage. 80 per cent of people are using Kinect which is remarkable compared to the last generation. We’re doing 120 voice commands on average a month with over a billion commands issued. People who wanted the experience came and bought it. We were sold out all through the holidays. I think it was the right call, and now is a good time to offer more choice for people who haven’t been able to get that experience.”

He also reiterated that Kinect is part of a step towards the future, to offer functionality that will be commonplace soon enough.

“The way I look at it is that you should take a five year vision. I think in five years, we will laugh at any computing device you can’t walk up to and talk to. Voice is going to be there for all devices. We’re a pioneer with Kinect in the living room."

Presumably, that assumption that voice will be ubiquitous is convincing Microsoft that the standalone Kinect will eventually be a hit. For the time being, we doubt many users will miss it all that much, and its absence may even be a benefit for gamers.

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  • reply
    May 16, 2014 11:45 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Including Kinect was 'the right call,' says Microsoft exec.

    Despite the decision to untether the device from the console, Xbox chief marketing and strategy officer Yusuf Mehdi still says including Kinect in the Xbox One was a good decision.

    • reply
      May 16, 2014 12:11 PM

      ..until it wasn't anymore.

      • reply
        May 16, 2014 12:52 PM

        Sometimes that happens. Results don't always dictate whether a decision was correct or not. If I go all in pre-flop with pocket aces and I lose to pocket 9s, my decision was still correct.

    • reply
      May 16, 2014 12:13 PM

      This guy is brilliantly stupid.

    • reply
      May 16, 2014 12:13 PM

      I think it was just the $500 price tag that was the problem.

      • reply
        May 16, 2014 12:21 PM

        The Kinect, the $500, the inferior hardware, and intrusive DRM: it all adds up.

        • reply
          May 16, 2014 12:37 PM

          It didn't launch with intrusive DRM. And the funny thing is, the DRM policies they did talk about in those two weeks were actually less restrictive than Steam that everyone holds up on a pedestal.

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 12:43 PM

            I still am sad they did not go through with their plans.

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 1:47 PM

            The key difference is Steam is one marketplace out of literally dozens. While some games are only available on Steam, it is not the only game in town. PC is not a closed down system, so if you don't like Steam you can go to GoG or Amazon or GMG or wherever else you want. That same competition is also what makes Steam sales happen (i.e. one of the main things that makes Steam so popular). Steam sales are driven purely by competition.

            Microsoft's plan would have incorporated all of the negative aspects of Steam (no resale, limited sharing) with none of the benefits. It would have directly destroyed the second-hand games market for the console - one of the biggest sources of lower-priced console games - then followed that up by giving Microsoft a near monopoly on first-sale games as well. There is no way that would have led to anything but game prices staying higher for longer, as if they didn't for long enough already. Higher prices plus less rights to your own games plus less ability to get games equals a very consumer unfriendly business plan.

            Oh, and don't kid yourself about the few cool features that the early XBO system was supposed to have: enabling those features didn't require making that awful DRM mandatory. Mandatory for those shared games, sure, but not for EVERY game. There's no reason why Microsoft couldn't have allowed for standard on-disc sales, but then also sold digital copies which give you access to sharing/etc. at the cost of using that DRM scheme. That would have been fair, and even would have been a selling point. Of course, that would have meant competing instead of having a deathgrip on the supply of games, which is why they took their ball and went home.

            • reply
              May 16, 2014 2:25 PM

              But for one, you could have resold them. Not indefinitely, as the plan was first explained to us, but you could have resold your games. Second, the entire plan was Microsoft responding to the wishes of their corporate customers. Uh huh, EA, Konami, Capcom, Eidos, everybody was pretty much asking for a way to recapture second hand sales or at least have a hand in them. Regardless of consumer opinion about this, their desires have not changed. Look out for this topic again in the future, you haven't seen the last of it, and you likely won't see it only on Microsoft's platform either.

              • reply
                May 16, 2014 2:30 PM

                We do not know if the games could have been resold. They were never explicit on it. They just said that it would be possible.

                Hint: Possible = no

                • reply
                  May 16, 2014 2:46 PM

                  We do not know if the games could have been resold. They were never explicit on it. They just said that it would be possible.

                  Really? I thought they were fairly clear about it. Take your game to GameStop, resold. Sell your game to someone on your friends list, resold.

                  • reply
                    May 16, 2014 3:02 PM

                    No, quite the opposite. They were evasive and if anything contradictory over what reselling games would entail. They ESPECIALLY wouldn't comment on rumors that publishers could require one-time-use keys with every sale, first- or second-hand, basically eliminating the point of used games.

                  • reply
                    May 16, 2014 3:22 PM

                    From the original FAQ: http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/license

                    Trade-in and resell your disc-based games: Today, some gamers choose to sell their old disc-based games back for cash and credit. We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers. Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games.

                    Give your games to friends: Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.

                    • reply
                      May 16, 2014 3:25 PM

                      They were really careful to weasel word their way around this. None of the publishers would comment on the record about it until they saw the feedback from the Sony press conference.

                      • reply
                        May 16, 2014 9:06 PM

                        Yes, but that does not change the fact that it is as I said: they were catering to publisher's desires. Don't think that Microsoft just sat up at night and said "I think I need to make a brand new publishing and licensing model just to make my new console work." They were responding to a want, just not the consumer want. And the FAQ reads pretty straightforward to me about it.

                        • reply
                          May 17, 2014 6:20 AM

                          Yes and that is precisely why people don't like it. They are consumers, not some major publisher. People get screwed way too much and don't like companies favoring the needs of other companies over the needs of the customers.

                          • reply
                            May 17, 2014 9:36 AM

                            And yet these companies provide the entertainment that you want. Again I say, look for this "issue" to crop up again. Quite likely, with another platform, possibly with a cabal of publishers. If it comes along again, and it will, it would be best to tackle it in a way that we still have more rights or freedoms. From what I can tell, from what the FAQ linked says, Microsoft was at least trying to do that for us. Will anybody else when they try to organize this? Will Sony? The PS4 absolutely has the ability.

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 2:17 PM

            The issue is that MS did a shitty job introducing the new policies. :/

            • reply
              May 16, 2014 2:22 PM

              They did but I feel they had also be drowned out by the noise of their own negative press. They had put themselves into a position they could not win from at all.

              In short - hole dug deep.

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 2:34 PM

            I never understood why they didn't keep the sharing / drm aspect for digital purchases while still allowing physical copies to be used the way they are now
            That way you can choose whether you want to deal with the restrictions or not

            • reply
              May 16, 2014 2:40 PM

              Because the motivation behind the scheme was never to compete by offering a better product. The motivation was to destroy the competition entirely. Their business analysts must have decided that not being able to have a stranglehold on the games market would have meant the plan would be unprofitable. Sadly, that tells you about how well it would have been implemented.

              It's a shame: I do think the digital marketplace with sharing and blahblahblah on XBO as an option, not mandatory, would have had merit. There are reasons why Steam is popular, and while Steam Sales are part of it they aren't the only reason. Offering that convenience on the console without removing the tried-and-true "just buy it on disc" method would have been great. But, again, they took their ball and went home.

        • reply
          May 16, 2014 12:40 PM

          [deleted]

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 2:31 PM

            So it's like a fried egg sandwich with chili sauce and chutney?

            ...actually that's an apt description.

    • reply
      May 16, 2014 12:18 PM

      I don't need a shoe horn, I'd consider them almost useless.

      If I paid $100 for a shoe horn I'd sure as hell be using it.

    • reply
      May 16, 2014 12:36 PM

      He's right. It was a differentiation, now it's just two black boxes that basically are the same in every way.

      • reply
        May 16, 2014 12:38 PM

        Except one does 1080p with new games, and the other 720p. Yet they cost the same.

        • reply
          May 16, 2014 12:38 PM

          Neither one of them have done 1080p with every game. Watch Dogs is 900p on PS4. Forza was 1080p on the One.

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 12:42 PM

            Okay... for games that are available on both consoles, PS4 does the same or higher resolution. Happy now?

            • reply
              May 16, 2014 11:42 PM

              No, the correct answer is no one gives a shit

              • reply
                May 17, 2014 7:07 AM

                Pretty much. The people who freak out over pixel counts still don't realize they are the HUGE minority of consumers.

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 12:46 PM

            Is watchdogs the only game on PS4 that is not 1080p?

            • reply
              May 16, 2014 12:54 PM

              I have no idea, I don't obsess over how many Ps a game has. I just worry if it looks good or plays good.

              • reply
                May 16, 2014 2:03 PM

                by that logic you would want to play games on the PS4 over the XBOX ONE as everything looks better on the PS4.

                • reply
                  May 16, 2014 2:10 PM

                  Seriously? I didn't say I had to play the game that looks the best, and I even think it's debatable how much better the PS4 looks than the Xbox One games at this point. There was a few that, while the PS4 had less jaggies for things way off in the distance, the stuff up close to the camera looked blurrier and less sharp.

                  Does the Xbox One play games that look good? Yes.

                  Does the PS4 play games that look good? Yes.

                  • reply
                    May 16, 2014 2:14 PM

                    so if they both play the same why not play games on the system that has less jaggies and a high resolution?

                    • reply
                      May 16, 2014 2:15 PM

                      because there are other important qualities of a platform

                • reply
                  May 16, 2014 5:34 PM

                  I'm isolation, if I could own both, then yeah. But things like friends come into play. So now you're talking exclusives or single player games, which, surprise, is what I did for last gen.

            • reply
              May 16, 2014 11:45 PM

              I think it and BF4 are the current two that run less than 1080p

        • reply
          May 16, 2014 12:43 PM

          Oh no my peas!

      • reply
        May 16, 2014 12:55 PM

        If your differentiator is "here's a peripheral with no good games for it" that's not much of a differentiation, it's just bloat.

      • reply
        May 16, 2014 3:38 PM

        [deleted]

    • reply
      May 16, 2014 12:37 PM

      "We’re doing 120 voice commands on average a month with over a billion commands issued."

      Which of course means all your voice commands, or at least stats about them, are sent to MS without your permission. Yay for camera + microphone in every living room!

      • reply
        May 16, 2014 12:37 PM

        Just like all your stats about your gaming and app usage were sent to MS during the 360 generation?

        • reply
          May 16, 2014 12:38 PM

          Not mine, but yes. I've never owned an Xbox, thankfully.

        • reply
          May 16, 2014 12:40 PM

          Also, sharing gaming and app usage data seems less bad to me than sharing voice command usage. Big data privacy concerns are constantly getting worse and worse.

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 12:42 PM

            How is it any different?

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 12:43 PM

            What's the difference if it's just "this command was utilized X number of times"?

            • reply
              May 16, 2014 12:46 PM

              Well they do get to hear me say "Xbox, Suck my Dick" on the rare occasions the system misses a command.

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 12:46 PM

            2014-05-16 12:04 bigimp started Netflix via Menu A
            2014-05-16 12:04 bigimp started Netflix via Voicecommand

            One of those seem way more intrusive than the other?

            • reply
              May 16, 2014 3:17 PM

              The second one literally raped my privacy.

            • reply
              May 16, 2014 4:53 PM

              If that's all they're doing, that would be fine. They can also detect when you're in the living room, when you watch TV and what you watch, plus they can technically spy on you entirely if they wanted to. It's not necessarily what they're doing now, it's the potential that worries me. And even if it's not MS that does 'bad' things with it, MS isn't exactly well known for their software's security...

          • reply
            May 16, 2014 12:54 PM

            What privacy concerns?
            So what if they collect stats on how often the different XBox commands are issued?
            How is giving the XBox a command, a private thing?

            • reply
              May 16, 2014 5:56 PM

              Exactly. They're incrementing a counter, not sending your melodic voice back to Redmond.

      • reply
        May 16, 2014 2:42 PM

        [deleted]

    • Zek legacy 10 years
      reply
      May 16, 2014 12:37 PM

      It's a valid argument, bundling it at launch is a strong statement that did increase adoption of the Kinect. Unbundling it now doesn't reverse that. I disagree with him though, bundling it cost them tremendously in their ability to match the PS4 on price, which is a disadvantage they couldn't afford given their other mistakes.

    • reply
      May 16, 2014 12:52 PM

      [deleted]

    • reply
      May 16, 2014 2:37 PM

      including Kinect was the right call. dropping Kinect was the right call. they're on an incredible hot streak really

      • reply
        May 16, 2014 2:41 PM

        Yeah they both can be the right decision.

      • reply
        May 16, 2014 5:48 PM

        In retrospect MS Bob was undeniably awesome

        • reply
          May 16, 2014 6:06 PM

          "It looks like you're running PR for the XBox division. Would you like help?"

      • reply
        May 16, 2014 6:31 PM

        They always make twice as many right calls as Sony: first when they announce it, and then when they reverse it. MS has this generation in the bag.

    • reply
      May 16, 2014 9:17 PM

      The Kinect was just some high level executive's pet project that spun out of control. IMO

    • reply
      May 16, 2014 11:20 PM

      VR by Sony was a better decision.

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