Microsoft is making some changes to their gaming systems, both price and service-wise. Starting June 9th, Microsoft will offer the Xbox One for $399, but the cheaper console does not include the Kinect motion/voice control add-on. This is a $100 discount off the console release last fall that comes with Kinect included.
Though Microsoft is offering a Kinect-free device, they said "Kinect remains an important part of our vision." They also found that 80 percent of their players already use Kinect actively, averaging 120 voice commands per month per player. So they will continue to sell the more expensive version of Xbox One with the Kinect bundle, there have not been any plans to discontinue the product. Also, in the event a player buys the stand alone XBox One, they will be able to purchase a standalone Kinect sensor in the future. Microsoft confirmed the device will be coming this fall.
They also moved to expand the perks of the Xbox Live Gold membership. Gold members will receive a free Xbox 360 and Xbox One game in June. They will also receive discounts on different games every month, Microsoft is offering 50-to-75 percent off certain games. Gold members will also have an exclusive "virtual VIP room", where they can collect all their perks.
Perhaps the most exciting change of all is that Xbox users no longer need Live Gold membership to access popular streaming apps like Netflix and HBO Go. Currently, you need a separate paid membership in order to stream those services to your TV through the console.
The changes are just Microsoft's latest line of attack in the ongoing battle against the rival Playstation 4, which also starts at $399, before upgrades.
Here's how the new console stands up against the classic Xbox 360 system, which you can also still buy, with or without the Kinect, if the Xbox One is still out of your price range.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.