Microsoft’s decision to remove Kinect from the Xbox One bundle has destroyed any possibility for developers to make games that realise the potential of the motion-sensing camera.
That’s according to Zumba Fitness developer and UK studio Zoë Mode, which expressed sympathy for aspiring Kinect devs who have "had the rug pulled from beneath them".
The announcement came yesterday as the platform holder made a bid to lower the price of Xbox One in the face of slow sales and a strong rival in Sony’s PlayStation 4.
Zoë Mode studio head Paul Mottram said that while he understood the decision, he was disappointed by it.
"We’ve been closely involved with Microsoft over the last few years and I imagine this decision wasn’t taken lightly, but it’s understandable as they need to compete with the PS4 on price," he told Develop. "However, whilst it wasn’t perfect, Kinect helped differentiate the platforms, which can only be a good thing.
"From a developer point of view it’s a shame, as it all but kills the chances of making an original Kinect title unless it is a major licensed Fitness or Dance product – and even those will suffer as it’s unlikely we’ll see Kinect 2 units even come close to the installed base of the original now. Even then it was a challenge.
"I just feel sorry for those developers who had Kinect titles in development who’ve had the rug pulled from beneath them and may now stand little chance of seeing a return on their investment. I still hope to see a killer use for Kinect that will change the minds of the doubters and hopefully ID@Xbox program will help make this happen, as smaller developers may try something new with the peripheral that mainstream publishers would were not willing to gamble on."
Frontier founder and Elite creator David Braben told us it was "great to see Xbox One at a lower price point", but reminded developers that there is still an audience out there with the new-gen Kinect.
"The Xbox One Kinect installed base is still around," he said. "It is, as always, up to developers to support peripherals if they are additive to a game experience."
Mottram added that, ironically, Kinect rival PlayStation Move may actually enjoy more success in the years to come.
"Once Morpheus is released we may see a surge in demand for the PlayStation Camera so gamers can use Move with it," he said.