In a move to spur sales of the Xbox One and catch up with rival Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday it will start selling the console without the Kinect sensor, which cuts $100 from the price.
The new price of $399 begins June 9.
Microsoft says it is also allowing entertainment apps like Netflix to be used on both the Xbox One and the older Xbox 360 console without having to pay for an Xbox Live Gold membership, which costs $60 a year.
The membership will continue to be required for multiplayer game mode, but it will also provide discounts on games and free games.
Phil Spencer, who was named head of Xbox in March, said unbundling Kinect was important to reaching more fans.
“Value is important,” he said in an interview. “Making sure you have an opening price point that can reach as many people as possible is critical.”
Kinect is an accessory that detects motion and allows users to control the console using their voice.
Explaining the Decision
In a blog post, Spencer explained the move.
“[B]eginning on June 9th, in all markets where Xbox One is sold, we will offer Xbox One starting at $399*. This is a new console option that does not include Kinect. For $399, our new Xbox One offering will continue to deliver access to the best blockbuster games like Titanfall, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3, and the upcoming Watch Dogs, Destiny and Sunset Overdrive.
“You will also be able to access popular entertainment apps, such as Twitch, YouTube, and Netflix, as well as watch live TV and use OneGuide. Finally, you will continue to be able to use many of the unique features of Xbox One including the ability to get game invites while you watch TV, switch between games and entertainment apps, enjoy Twitch broadcasts, and upload your favorite gaming moments.”
Microsoft said last month that sales of Xbox One had slowed to 1.2 million in the quarter through March, compared to the 3.9 million it sold in the holiday quarter. The total of 5.1 million was behind Sony’s 7 million in sales of the PS4. Both launched in November.
Spencer added that it no longer made sense to reserve apps such as Netflix and YouTube to paying subscribers since such apps are widely available on DVD players and other Internet-connected devices.
Other Changes for Subscribers
Several changes are also being made in the subscriber service, as Spencer explained:
“In early June, here is what you can expect from the new generation of Xbox Live:
- Free games with Games with Gold**. Since Games with Gold launched on Xbox 360 a year ago, over 12 million people have enjoyed great free games, resulting in nearly 200 million hours of free fun playing Games with Gold titles. We’ve been learning from your feedback and have focused on making improvements each month to the selection of titles. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of Games with Gold for Xbox 360 and as a thank you for helping shape this program, members will receive an additional free Xbox 360 game in June. The Games with Gold titles for Xbox 360 in June are “Dark Souls,” “Charlie Murder” and a bonus game of “Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.” We’re pleased to bring Games with Gold to Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox One in June. Members will have subscription-based access to free games ranging from top hits to breaking indie stars. The program will launch on Xbox One with “Max: The Curse of Brotherhood” and “Halo: Spartan Assault.” A single Gold membership will get you access to the free games for both Xbox One and Xbox 360.
- Exclusive Discounts. Deals with Gold will also launch for Xbox One in June, delivering discounts for great games each month, with significant savings for Xbox Live Gold members. The first titles offered in June will include “Forza Motorsport 5,” “Ryse: Son of Rome,” and a few other surprises. In the coming months, we will offer significant savings of up to 50 – 75 percent off certain titles. This program will continue to be available for Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox 360. And new on Xbox One, we will launch a virtual VIP room exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members where we will feature free games, monthly deals, and other great benefits.
- Popular entertainment apps will be available for all Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners. Xbox 360 has been a leader in delivering entertainment experiences for years, with over 170 global entertainment apps and experiences available today. We’re constantly adding new partners and experiences to the growing catalog on Xbox One. Coming in June, anyone with an Xbox will be able to access popular entertainment experiences – whether or not you have an Xbox Live Gold membership. This includes great gaming apps like Machinima, Twitch and Upload, popular video services like Netflix, Univision Deportes, GoPro, Red Bull TV and HBO GO, sports experiences like the NFL app for Xbox One, MLB.TV, NBA Game Time, NHL Game Center and more. Microsoft experiences including Internet Explorer, Skype, OneDrive and OneGuide will also be available to all Xbox customers.