Harrison: Removing Kinect Creates "Virtuous Cycle" of More Consumers, Developers

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Harrison: Removing Kinect Creates "Virtuous Cycle" of More Consumers, Developers

phil harrison

"The more consumers who buy Xbox One, it's a virtuous cycle for more developers to make and more consumers to play games," the head of Microsoft's European Studios said at a London preview event last week.

Microsoft's been getting a lot of attention for its recent call to offer a cheaper, Kinect-free Xbox One later this year. Now, Phil Harrison, former president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios and current chief of Microsoft's European Studios, has said that the move will ultimately create a "virtuous cycle," leading to more Xbox One owners followed by more developer support.

"Last week we made a very significant announcement about giving gamers a choice, a choice about how they want to enter the Xbox One ecosystem," Harrison told OXM. "And fundamentally that is good for opening up the Xbox One ecosystem - the more consumers who buy Xbox One, it's a virtuous cycle for more developers to make and more consumers to play games, and that is what we're committed to achieving and continuing."

Harrison stated that Microsoft remains "committed to Kinect as the premium way to experience the Xbox One vision." More than 80 percent of Xbox One Kinects are active, with an average of 120 voice commands being issued each day by all users. "When you have this premium experience that is where the Xbox One comes alive," he told OXM.

While Harrison clearly wants to paint a rosy picture for the Kinect's future, comments from other Microsoft heads raise some questions. Last week, Microsoft's corporate vice president for devices and studios stated that removing the Kinect could leave the Xbox One with more processing power for games.

Source: OXM

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The Kinect was never going to work out in my opinion.
Microsoft had a few strategies it could have tried, the first of course would be twisting the arm of every developer and forcing them to make the Kinect a principle part of their games so as too acclimate players to it.
That would have failed -violently- because the Kinect simply wasn't ready for prime time and it would have ruined every game that they forced functionality for it into.
The second strategy is what they went with, making it a voluntary thing for developers but a forced thing for consumers. From the dev viewpoint, it doesn't matter one damned bit how many people -have- the Kinect, every feature they do to give extra functionality for it is a cost they can do without, which is why that strategy failed and now the Kinect is being thrown under the bus.
The third would have been too make it voluntary for consumers -and- developers, which was the strategy of the first Kinect for the 360, and we all know how that went.

No matter what they did, it was always going too fail, the only winning move would have been to never create it in the first place. But they just couldn't leave well enough alone, and years of research, development, and billions of dollars later, they have NOTHING to show for it.

This is what I'm getting from all these Microsoft newsflashes about the Xbox and Kinect:

In other news, Eastasia is no longer at war with Eurasia. In fact, they've always been allies. The true enemy is Oceania, which has declared war on Eurasia, which is friends with Eastasia. This has resulted in a decisive victory over Oceania armies in Africa.

This on RPS just a couple days ago:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/05/21/of-mice-and-gamepads-the-future-of-controllers/

A strong argument in favor of other, unconventional game control mechanisms like Kinect.

Johnny Novgorod:
This is what I'm getting from all these Microsoft newsflashes about the Xbox and Kinect:

In other news, Eastasia is no longer at war with Eurasia. In fact, they've always been allies. The true enemy is Oceania, which has declared war on Eurasia, which is friends with Eastasia. This has resulted in a decisive victory over Oceania armies in Africa.

I think everyone outside of Microsoft can see that the future of the Kinect looks doubleplusungood. All the press releases they are throwing out kind of make it look like they didn't think it through that much and are just trying to make it up as they go along. They just need to have someone come out and say that this was Microsoft's plan all along to complete the circle of bullshit.

I don't know about you guys, but terms like "how they want to enter the Xbox One ecosystem" kinda creep me out and drive me away. Is there anyone who's enticed by the idea of entering a branded ecosystem? Even if they just want to buy a box that plays games, or even run their cable through it. I dunno.

More on-topic, this puts the new Kinect in the same situation it was in last gen. Dancing games will do fine, almost every other input outside of that and Netflix will suffer for it unless someone has a lot of money or creative ideas for it.

Remember way back when they said the kinect couldn't be remove from the xbone? Someone ought to ask him what else did microsoft lied to us about.

evilnancyreagan:
This on RPS just a couple days ago:
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/05/21/of-mice-and-gamepads-the-future-of-controllers/
A strong argument in favor of other, unconventional game control mechanisms like Kinect.

Only if they work. Kinect fails to work far too often. If it actually did what it promised everyone would love it (and you'd see a lot more games using it).

I've got one gathering dust on my X360, and the XB1 Kinect fails to be better at anything but navigating the XB1 dashboard (which seems to be designed purposely bad to force you to use it). The input lag on Kinect Sports Rivals is excruciating even when it does actually correctly recognize what you're trying to do. It's actually LESS intuitive and immersive than just using a gamepad would be.

oldtaku:
Only if they work. Kinect fails to work far too often. If it actually did what it promised everyone would love it (and you'd see a lot more games using it).

I've got one gathering dust on my X360, and the XB1 Kinect fails to be better at anything but navigating the XB1 dashboard (which seems to be designed purposely bad to force you to use it). The input lag on Kinect Sports Rivals is excruciating even when it does actually correctly recognize what you're trying to do. It's actually LESS intuitive and immersive than just using a gamepad would be.

That's something they definitely touch base in the article but, the spin on it is that hardware design is less important than developers utilizing the features of the hardware effectively and creatively. The whole piece suggests that game developers rely too heavily on traditional gamepads as crutches and limited control options are stifling the growth of innovative new game concepts.

BlameTheWizards:
[...]with an average of 120 voice commands being issued each day by all users.[...]

Now, this might be a case of getting lost in translation, with me not being a native english speaker and all that, but that sounds like all users (all 80% of XBone buyers) issue 120 commands per day, total, on average. Which made me laugh out loud :)

And no, I don't have anything substantial to contribute to the discussion, other than pointing out that this was phrased poorly, IMHO.

Whoracle:

BlameTheWizards:
[...]with an average of 120 voice commands being issued each day by all users.[...]

Now, this might be a case of getting lost in translation, with me not being a native english speaker and all that, but that sounds like all users (all 80% of XBone buyers) issue 120 commands per day, total, on average. Which made me laugh out loud :)

And no, I don't have anything substantial to contribute to the discussion, other than pointing out that this was phrased poorly, IMHO.

the way he said it, he meant that each day, across everyone who owns a Xbox One and has the Kinect turned on, issues 120 voice commands.

not 120 commands per person, 120 commands per the entirety of the Kinect user base.

Of course, he could of meant it another way, but that's been Microsoft's problem, they don't know what they are saying and default to spewing shit.

Whoracle:

BlameTheWizards:
[...]with an average of 120 voice commands being issued each day by all users.[...]

Now, this might be a case of getting lost in translation, with me not being a native english speaker and all that, but that sounds like all users (all 80% of XBone buyers) issue 120 commands per day, total, on average. Which made me laugh out loud :)

And no, I don't have anything substantial to contribute to the discussion, other than pointing out that this was phrased poorly, IMHO.

Yep, wanted to point out the same thing. 120 commands by all the xbone users per day is not something it'd brag about if I were a Microsoft official.

Not having it as part of the core SKU effectively takes the Kinect out behind the shed and shoots it in the back of the head. The motion control fad is over. Kinect was a fun gadget sure but even when it was a wildly successful peripheral it never contributed to the gaming ecosystem in a meaningful way. It always felt shoe-horned in, forced and unnatural.

This is a consumer choice they never wanted to give. This is reality winning out over Microsoft's vision of their enforced future and they have done it as begrudgingly as possible whilst putting on a brave face. This was never the plan. Their original plan was retarded but they were hoping to stick to it.

Sooo... are we just gonna gloss over how Microsoft monitors the use of the camera/microphone in their customers' homes?

That's not creepy at all.

So, after a year or two of trying to cram Kinect down our throats, Microsoft is finally conceding that they're wasting their time.

Took them long enough.

DrunkOnEstus:
I don't know about you guys, but terms like "how they want to enter the Xbox One ecosystem" kinda creep me out and drive me away. Is there anyone who's enticed by the idea of entering a branded ecosystem? Even if they just want to buy a box that plays games, or even run their cable through it. I dunno.

Pretty much why I bought a Kobo instead of a Kindle. Kindle locks you into Amazon's store, while Kobo uses an open standard for its e-books(and has an SD card expansion slot as well).

Trying to spin using voice commands as being full use of the Kinect is, quite frankly, so stupid it hurts. The Kinect was initially foisted on everyone as an alternate (or even primary) control system for playing games. The fact that it let you use voice commands (and gestures, but even that must be a massive fail since they refuse to mention it) to control your dashboard was supposed to be just a fairly negligible side benefit. In reality, if all that Kinect is used for by the vast majority of people who actually do use it is voice commands on the dashboard, they could have already done that by making use of a headset which most Xbox owners already have. Sure it would be less convenient, but the function would be exactly the same. In essence, Microsoft is admitting that their "new way to play games" is really just a fancy and relatively expensive microphone.

I love how what they say they wholeheartedly believe is good changed so rapidly and just happens to coincide with what they want/have been pressured to do. I suppose it makes sense from a business perspective to look like you have convictions, but is being dedicated absolutely to every approach and its opposite when required promoting that image?

Well in essence their strategy isn't too stupid unless it does irreparable harm to their future sales (which it won't). They essentially suckered a bunch of people who would rather not have the kinect to get it, those who didn't bite will just buy the kinectless version, and later buyers in Kinect will get it on their consoles...so all round this will ultimately mean more kinects out there.

Also I think it's gotten to the point where pointing out Microsoft contradicting themselves is old hat. Companies will contradict themselves at times, but Microsoft seems to want to every other week for lord knows what reason.

This is pretty hysterical but my initial reaction was, "No shit Sherlock".

BlameTheWizards:

Harrison stated that Microsoft remains "committed to Kinect as the premium way to experience the Xbox One vision." More than 80 percent of Xbox One Kinects are active, with an average of 120 voice commands being issued each day by all users. "When you have this premium experience that is where the Xbox One comes alive," he told OXM.

Interesting... Is there some kind of transparency report that lists exactly what info they track?

It's something I want from all companies to be honest, the eula usually abbreviates this info with wording like, "Things like..." or "non identity related info". It's always so specific in what it wants from the users but disclosing what it tracks is always so secretive.

I can't even begin to understand this bit of news, is he seriously saying there's only a 120 commands each day for their entire user base? That is a scary statistic, what an absolute failure of a product.

And its nice to see they are keeping those stats on us, just lovely.

Just die already Microsoft, I'm so tired of your bullshit.

Whoracle:

BlameTheWizards:
[...]with an average of 120 voice commands being issued each day by all users.[...]

Now, this might be a case of getting lost in translation, with me not being a native english speaker and all that, but that sounds like all users (all 80% of XBone buyers) issue 120 commands per day, total, on average. Which made me laugh out loud :)

And no, I don't have anything substantial to contribute to the discussion, other than pointing out that this was phrased poorly, IMHO.

The number is probably only that high because they factored in all the failed voice commands. People are probably having to repeat themselves before the Kinect understands them.

Although it did work first time when I said "Xbox off" to my friends Xbox that was only supposed to listen to his voice, that was pretty funny.

Fulbert:

Whoracle:

BlameTheWizards:
[...]with an average of 120 voice commands being issued each day by all users.[...]

Now, this might be a case of getting lost in translation, with me not being a native english speaker and all that, but that sounds like all users (all 80% of XBone buyers) issue 120 commands per day, total, on average. Which made me laugh out loud :)

And no, I don't have anything substantial to contribute to the discussion, other than pointing out that this was phrased poorly, IMHO.

Yep, wanted to point out the same thing. 120 commands by all the xbone users per day is not something it'd brag about if I were a Microsoft official.

Salute to you for seeing the details!
I understood that sentence the same way. Harrison does want to sell an utter failure as a feature.

Cybylt:
Sooo... are we just gonna gloss over how Microsoft monitors the use of the camera/microphone in their customers' homes?

That's not creepy at all.

I think "monitors" isn't the right word. Tracking numbers and monitoring people are two vastly different things. It's most likely just raw (sorry, "metadata") collected.

CardinalPiggles:

Cybylt:
Sooo... are we just gonna gloss over how Microsoft monitors the use of the camera/microphone in their customers' homes?

That's not creepy at all.

I think "monitors" isn't the right word. Tracking numbers and monitoring people are two vastly different things. It's most likely just raw data collected.

I hope you meant "just metadata", because RAW data would in fact be all data the kinect generates :) And still, the same arguments that were brought on back when they announced their always online BS still hold true: Even IF MS doesn't actively monitor your kinect, that's not saying someone else won't *cough*NSA&GCHQ*cough*...

Also, metadata can be pretty informative, too, just so you know.

Whoracle:

CardinalPiggles:

Cybylt:
Sooo... are we just gonna gloss over how Microsoft monitors the use of the camera/microphone in their customers' homes?

That's not creepy at all.

I think "monitors" isn't the right word. Tracking numbers and monitoring people are two vastly different things. It's most likely just raw data collected.

I hope you meant "just metadata", because RAW data would in fact be all data the kinect generates :) And still, the same arguments that were brought on back when they announced their always online BS still hold true: Even IF MS doesn't actively monitor your kinect, that's not saying someone else won't *cough*NSA&GCHQ*cough*...

Also, metadata can be pretty informative, too, just so you know.

Thanks for the correction, I'm terribly uninformed when it comes to computer terminology. But still (while trying very hard not to sound like a MS advocate) It's not like this information is light of something sinister from MS, most companies track this kind of stuff.

CardinalPiggles:
Thanks for the correction, I'm terribly uninformed when it comes to computer terminology. But still (while trying very hard not to sound like a MS advocate) It's not like this information is light of something sinister from MS, most companies track this kind of stuff.

Yes, most do, which makes matters worse. Only data that isn't stored can't be abused. And we've seen how much the companies care for the security of our data (again, this is without touching the subject of the likes of NSA et al.), which is: not at all. Amazon, eBay, Sony, Gawker, they have all been hacked at one or more points, and most often not by highly trained professionals, but by script kiddies. Data security costs money and doesn't bring any monetary benefit to said companies. To make a device mandatory which is for all intents and purposes a sophisticated audio and video bug is highly dumb, if not suspicious. And once more: I don't belive (for now) that MS is actively gathering the raw data, but I'll be damned if they nailed their stuff shut enough that no one else can abuse it.
And as for metadata: There has been an experiment of a german politician who decided to look what only the cell change data from his mobile phone told about him. http://www.zeit.de/datenschutz/malte-spitz-data-retention <- give that a whirl. That is only data that the cell phone providers HAVE to track in order to provide their services. Now translate that to the kinect: With metadata alone y<ou can gather how much time on average a person is at home each day, on which days they're most likely to be at home, when their children are with them ("XBox, start netflix... watch Frozen!"), when they're most likely to be asleep ("XBox off" issued moon-fri no later than 1am for example) etc.
Now map that to other metadata gained from different sources (cell phones, facebook, whatsapp etc.) that you can access publicly or at least without much hassle, and you've got a pretty good image of a persons live and can foretell where they'll most likely be in a few days, too.

All of this without any NEED to gather the data. I mean, for what do they gather the data? For advertisements? Bad deal yor the user, I'd say. And once the script kiddies or someone else grabs the data, you're screwed...

tl;dr:
Data security is expensive and doesn't benefit the companies. "Other companies do it, too" makes it even worse. Metadata is more dangerous than most people think. And I don't trust any of those companies to keep the data secure, simply because they DEMONSTRATED that they can't (or can't be bothered to).
The only secure data is data that isn't there. Which is why the Kinect in itself was a mediocre idea, mandatory bundling and always-online were really BAD ideas.

Its like every Microsoft exec under the sun is lining up with a baseball bat to take a swing at the kinect. And if I could, I would join them.

"Ecosystem" ?
From what i read earlier in the week about the power usage of that twitchy beast.. this has some aggressively sinister undertones.

Anyhoo, every news article with MS speaking just sounds like "Yeah, we got this product that we really want you peeps to buy, but you just aint buying. These other ppl bought it, so they must know its good, right? We hoped you would seeing as its the best...wait, thats been proven wrong...but we definately believe it COULD be the best. ...If you look at it slightly different. No...youre not looking at it right. Let me turn it a bit. ...Hey! Youre not even looking!! Jim? Can we get some different lighting here please??"
Um, i forgot where i was going wih this. Ah yes, This is not news! Why am i even commenting here?!

Whoracle:
Epic snip

I would agree with pretty much everything you said here, but the fact remains that MS aren't doing anything bad here (which is what the other person I initially replied to was saying). They are however like you said, doing incredibly stupid things like putting glorified webcams/microphones in peoples houses that can and will at some point be abused by "script kiddies".

Thankfully I never bothered with either the first or the second generation Kinect's, so I don't have to worry.

So much spin. Ever since that disastrous pre-launch fiasco I suspect that microsoft's pr department has been nothing but dj's. (sorry)

Seriously though, it's kind of amusing to see just how hard microsoft has been trying to salvage the xbone. Every announcement consists of some kind of back peddling or excuse making (in this case: if you buy it we'll be able to get more devs on board). Considering the console was built from the ground up as a marketing tool, I'm glad the kinect will become optional. From a programming and optimization standpoint, this should improve system performance, too. Who knows, they might even be able to make a few big games run in 1080p now.

I just wish they'd stop all this pr nonsense and just say "yeah, we were wrong from the start, here's the system we should have been selling. Also, sorry for spying on you." After that they'll admit xbox live is a ripoff and they'll give us a cure for cancer and flying cars.

What he says makes sense up to a point. The more people that buy Xbox One, the better. This is a common sense statement as it applies to any gaming system. If there were more sales of a console then that console will get more games and more attention from developers. Companies don't want to take a big risk on something that's unpopular. The fact of the matter is that Kinect isn't/wasn't popular. Not just on these forum, but many others I frequent have I heard disdain for the device. Not to say that some didn't find is satisfactory, but the general consensus was/is that it's junk and they didn't like it. Still MS persisted that the device would be the crux of their new system. Thankfully that's not the case as they've now decided to remove Kinect.

Whoracle:

BlameTheWizards:
[...]with an average of 120 voice commands being issued each day by all users.[...]

Now, this might be a case of getting lost in translation, with me not being a native english speaker and all that, but that sounds like all users (all 80% of XBone buyers) issue 120 commands per day, total, on average. Which made me laugh out loud :)

And no, I don't have anything substantial to contribute to the discussion, other than pointing out that this was phrased poorly, IMHO.

Yes, I think he said that wrong. He more than likely meant 120 per customer per day. Not 120 total per day for the entirety of the users. If that were the case he wouldn't offer up such information as it points how little the Kinect is utilized. Sales in the millions across many places, 80% of those units with only 120 commands total? That would be pathetic. But that number itself is rather surprising. From what little I hear on the Xbox One, most only use the voice commands to turn the unit on and off. Perhaps it's due to the TV features and web browsing that pumps up the numbers. Still I can't see anyone making a rapid succession of commands. I watch TV/movies within hour blocks in most cases. There are points I stop for snacks, commercials, and what not, the same can be said for my gaming sessions. Unless you're constantly switching channels I can't understand how that many voice commands would be used. Perhaps like someone stated it's counting failed commands as well as successful ones.

I like how he acts like this some amazing new idea or innovation they came up with. "Now we can open up the platform and give consumers more choices". Sony already did that by not including a $100 motion camera that isn't good enough for playing most games

CardinalPiggles:
I would agree with pretty much everything you said here, but the fact remains that MS aren't doing anything bad here (which is what the other person I initially replied to was saying). They are however like you said, doing incredibly stupid things like putting glorified webcams/microphones in peoples houses that can and will at some point be abused by "script kiddies".

Thankfully I never bothered with either the first or the second generation Kinect's, so I don't have to worry.

I know, sorry. Didn't want to harp on you. The whole big data/data security/kinect topic is just a biiiig rage button for me, especially when people "downplay" the impact of metadata. I realize that hasn't been your intention, it's just a trigger for me ;)

ThunderCavalier:
So, after a year or two of trying to cram Kinect down our throats, Microsoft is finally conceding that they're wasting their time.

Took them long enough.

Yeah but now they're going around, acting as if they figured this out all by themselves. Honestly, what universe are they living in?

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