Well that didn’t last long. Four years after releasing as a mandatory peripheral for the Xbox One, Microsoft quietly confirmed that production for the Kinect has officially ended.
In an exclusive interview with Co.Design, two of Microsoft’s executives revealed that production on the Xbox One’s Kinect was no longer active. Alex Kipman, creator of the Kinect, and Matthew Lapsen, general manager of Xbox Devices Marketing, made it known that Microsoft won’t be continuing production of the device.
Director of Studio for Creative Inquiry at CMU, Golan Levin, utilized Kinect in a lot of experimental and production UI prototyping, wasn’t entirely pleased with the news but conceded that that’s just how capitalism works, saying…
“You know, we’re all at the whim of capital. And there’s no expectation that Microsoft should do something that doesn’t support their bottom line,” he continues, choosing the words of his swallowed rant very carefully. “But this is one of those times I’m sad to hear that a tool which is used for so many different applications, and is so ubiquitous, and has served crucially as a platform for so much creative experimentation, cultural progress, and secondary innovation, in so many different fields, isn’t supporting their core business.”
“Someone has made the decision that there aren’t enough games being sold that use it and it’s a shame,”
The original Kinect showed a lot of promise with things like Peter Molyneux’s Milo demo before its actual release.
However, after its release it had a less than stellar line-up of software. Despite selling millions of units based on broken promises and unfulfilled dreams, Microsoft was intent on keeping Kinect around as a novelty device within the Xbox family.
The Kinect 2.0, however, fell under a web of controversy after it was mired in the leaks from former CIA analyst Edward Snowden back in 2014. The leaks revealed that some government security agencies actually used cameras and recording devices hooked up to internet-ready stations could be used to spy on owners. In one particular case, it was revealed that the Kinect was involved in a GCHQ spying protocol that involved filtering through lots of sexually explicit imagery.
The combination of the device having to be always-on, being able to utilize biometric data to feed it back through the servers, and the fact that privacy concerns mounted over the device, it became a tough sell for consumers.
Some fanboys defended the device like their life depended on it, but it didn’t help sell normies on it one bit.
What made matters worse is that despite Phil Spencer, the current head honcho of Xbox, saying that they wouldn’t remove Kinect from the bundle pack, they eventually did. Not only that, but Microsoft essentially just stopped making software for it, leaving it out to dry and forcing Kinect owners to waft through the embarrassing stench of failure toward greener and cleaner pastures in the Sony and Nintendo camps.
Despite all the spying and privacy concerns, Kinect had an opportunity to become something great, but Microsoft forfeited that by not committing to it. In fact, the company has always had a problem of not committing, which is why they’re in the current pickle where the Xbox One has no noteworthy exclusives.