I can’t get any voice-command devices to work. Apple’s Siri randomly calls people from my contacts whenever I ask for directions. If I ask for the score from a sporting event, Siri is sure to start playing a track from a band I haven’t listened to in ages.
I have the same problems with Kinect’s voice commands. Sometimes some commands work, other times they do not. I have no idea why – I don’t have a particularly thick accent. It seems to have a mind of its own. I share my frustration with voice control because I want you to know I’m biased. I hate the Kinect.
For all my dislike for the product that makes “you” the controller, I admit Dance Central was an amazing piece of software. That game, and thus far that game alone, figured out how to make the Kinect an interesting gaming device.
So when Microsoft announced that a new and improved Kinect would be sold with every Xbox One at a higher price point than its competitors, I immediately thought Microsoft was crazy.
But what do I know? I’ve been wrong about plenty of things before. Microsoft must have all these great examples of the hardware making amazing software available. But at the Xbox One launch we got Fighter Within, which currently carries a Metacritic score of 23. For those who don’t use Metacritic, that’s real bad.
On the horizon we have… ummm, I can’t think of a title on the horizon save for Harmonix and Disney’s Fantasia, which magically got delayed. When I ask third-party developers how they are leveraging Kinect for their new games, most laugh out loud, like it is a punchline to a joke. Sure, Microsoft has used the Kinect in other ways. Plenty of people love its entertainment options, especially the way it integrates with their cable service. Others enjoy the little touches, like how it recognizes you and automatically logs you in or allows you to rouse zombies in Dead Rising 3 by making a sound in real life. The Kinect is not without its moments.
But at this moment, none of these positives are required for doing what most people purchase an Xbox One for – playing games. Microsoft is resolute in keeping the Kinect in the box. I wish it were optional. I literally can’t make it a part of my home entertainment system where I play games, as my consoles are too far from the TV. For consumers like myself, who want that option, we are basically throwing away extra dollars to choose the Xbox One with services and hardware we don’t want or need.
Perhaps Microsoft has an ace up its sleeve that will show the power of Kinect and why it needs to be a part of every Xbox One sold, but I wish it would just move on, make it optional, and get us back to the business of playing games.
Editor-in-Chief, Game Informer
Andy McNamara is editor-in-chief of Game Informer. Follow Andy on Twitter @GI_AndyMc.