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Kinect-less Xbox One is finally on the way this June
May 13, 2014 | By Mike Rose, Kris Graft

May 13, 2014 | By Mike Rose, Kris Graft
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    58 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Video



As of now, every purchase of a new Xbox One console comes with the Kinect as standard, with no option to buy the console without. Today Microsoft finally unveiled what many have been hoping for since launch -- a Kinect-less Xbox One console.

Starting from June 9, consumers will be able to purchase the Xbox One console sans Kinect for the cut-down price of $399.99.

"To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision," says Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. He says, more than 80 percent of Xbox One users actively using Kinect, with an average of 120 voice commands per month on each console.

This announcement comes weeks after it was revealed that the Xbox One is lagging behind the competition, with 5 million consoles shipped compared to Sony's 7 million PlayStation 4 consoles sold. PS4 sells for $399, its original launch price.

Left in the lurch?

Microsoft has preached the importance of the Kinect for a long while -- that it is integral to the Xbox One experience. Some game developers -- namely Dance Central and Fantasia: Music Evolved developer Harmonix -- formed product strategies around the expectation that every Xbox One would come with a Kinect.

Come June, however, the Kinect-less Xbox One offering will fragment the market, limiting the audience for Kinect-reliant games like Fantasia: Music Evolved to those who own both an Xbox One and a Kinect. Harmonix publicist Nick Chester was responded to today's news. "As avid gamers, we’re excited for fans to have more choices out there," he said.

"As game makers, this platform change doesn’t affect our strategy -- it reinforces that we must continue to focus on building innovative, compelling and well-designed motion experiences to motivate consumers to buy our games."

When asked about how the news today might affect Kinect-centric game developers, a Microsoft spokesperson said, "We will focus on Kinect-integrated experiences where Kinect works best and resonates best with our fans. We remain committed to a long-term vision to Kinect innovation and experiences you can’t find anywhere else. Developers will continue to have a choice in how they create games and choose to utilize Kinect experiences."

Update: Added comments from Microsoft, Harmonix.


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Comments


Josh Charles
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This never happens if not for the PlayStation 4's success so far.

Sean Kiley
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I love how fast game companies are responding to consumers today. God bless the internet.

Bob Johnson
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I don't think it has to do with the internet like you may think it does. It's about sales numbers and competition more than anything.

Kyle Redd
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Now if only Nintendo would respond as fast as Microsoft has.

Kujel Selsuru
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I'm surprised they are doing this, I still plan to get one with a Kinect though.

Josh Charles
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Also, judging by the date (June 9th), this may have been an E3 announcement that was pushed up a few weeks.

Theresa Catalano
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It's starting to seem like they are desperate. Who can blame them.

Justin Kovac
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That was my thought. Stark contrast to the 360 Slim announcement!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfDyy8DTOtw

"Larger HDD, includes WiFi. Same price as old model. Shipping to retailers today."

Mike Griffin
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Yeah, this might have been ammo better spent a little closer to E3.

Too soon?
I mean, last month $450 bought you an Xbox One that included Titanfall and a Kinect.
Next month $400 gets you a Kinect-less Xbox One.

I suppose they'll still have the $500 Kinect SKU and leftovers of the $450 TF/Kinect SKU.

It's too bad they likely won't be able to update the firmware to yank back the system overhead incurred to support Kinect. That's a little 8-10% of reserved power that developers would probably love to have back.

Bob Johnson
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Yeah wonder if they will yank back that overhead.

IN theory they could as long as developers also made sure they had a version of their game that would (work) without it (for existing users.) Even then not sure this couldn't be worked around.

MS is good at the software engineering stuff.

Dane MacMahon
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The dominant prediction seems to be a new UI shown at E3, more tailored to a controller.

Thomas Schenck
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This makes it far less creepy, and might even make me consider purchasing one. Maybe.

Bryson Whiteman
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Xbox One sign out.

John Flush
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After playing Forza 4 with Kinnect I will have to say the game was a lot better to navigate by voice... but that is only because they severely hampered their UI design in the first place.

This is a good move to keep the price down but with almost no exclusives I see no reason for consumers to get both a PS4 and XOne this gen.

Jarod Smiley
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Good move...but there's just no point to having both of these systems right now...Sony was smart to go after big third party deals...That's how 360 won the U.S.

If 3rd parties market with Sony, I fail to see how MS will compete worldwide.

But U.S should get back to even with price parity and the annual COD marketing deals. Still, hardcore are jumping ship this gen. Whoever has the best exclusives will make a lot of noise this E3. Platforms can be judged much more evenly now.

Dane MacMahon
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I'm not sure either console wowed with games yet. I think most of these early sales are based on sexy tech, and maybe the PS4 is winning simply because its tech is sexier.

Will be interesting to see what everyone focuses on at E3.

Christopher Myburgh
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Kudos to MS for chucking out hardware that few customers actually want. Shame on them for still trying to sell it at the same price as the PS4, which has a significantly faster GPU and substantially faster memory! When I'm ready to go next-gen, my choice is still going to be easy. Now if the Kinect-less Xbone was a more reasonable $349 or less, my decision would be much more difficult.

Adam Bishop
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In Canada the PS4 is $450, so the Xbone will at least be cheaper here.

Bob Johnson
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Yeah that's a problem MS has now. NOw their product is more similar yet slower for the same price. Even more so if developers still don't get access to the processing power that was reserved for Kinect.

Eric Geer
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I'm still not sure why anyone is buying an XBONE. MS has been flip-flopping on major issues: used games/always online/kinect requirement since before and well after release. Only people that should be jumping on this wagon are the most die hard fans.

Jarod Smiley
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I think that's all that will happen...

More casual gamers only buy the most popular stuff and yearly releases like COD/AC/BF/Madden/Fifa...

It was important to also have that price parity though. It will definitely help. But the hardcore have picked already, and the constant resolution battles don't really help.

Big e3 coming up that's for sure. Sony bet on VR, in-house studios, Destiny co-marketing and PSnow. We'll see if price parity and Live giving games like PS+ is enough for MS to bounce back in the U.S.

I know I've already picked up a PS4, between that, Vita and 3DS, nothing else I really need at this point.

Brett Williams
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You're not sure why anyone would buy hardware from a company that's willing to update and change their policy to support consumers? I think you need to sit down and think about that for a few minutes.

PS3 never updated anything in its lifetime that was worth a damn, other than taking away features. Microsoft knows that by changing and adapting to needs they will always have the advantage on Sony. It's simple.

Jeremy Parsons
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@Brett
"PS3 never updated anything in its lifetime that was worth a damn, other than taking away features."

Granted, I don't remember *everything* they've done in updates, but they did introduce things like trophies, remote play and cloud saves.

Jarod Smiley
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To support consumers or because not enough consumers were supporting them? There's a difference...

Pre-orders, sales race, and negative PR are on the only things MS changed for. The initial reaction to there reveal was overwhelming, but when did the flipping start? When those Pre-order numbers started to come in.

PS3 never updated anything is just silly, won't even respond to it. MS has a ton of cash, that's about the only advantage is has, so far, X1 is following the trends and whats popular. Everything MS is doing is reaction based.

Only thing that would buy me back into that system is amazing in-house games, not money hatting TitanFall. But whatever, I think Sony can step up as well, but for me the choice between the two is easy enough. Don't see myself picking up an X1 this gen. Steam/PS4/3DS for me.

That goodness for choice.

Eric Geer
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@Brett "I think you need to sit down and think about that for a few minutes....Microsoft knows that by changing and adapting to needs they will always have the advantage on Sony. It's simple."

lol...Brett really. It just seems like they have been reacting, rather than adapting. They provide a subpar product and idea at a price point exceeding the competition, and have been knee jerking ever since get into consumer wallets. Rather than listening to consumers upfront and providing a better experience from day one, they have been watching the competition and fumbling like idiots since launch.

Matthew Mouras
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@Eric: I don't think that's the case. The Xbox One exclusives at launch appealed to me more. Infamous never resonated with me as a series. Too much juvenile power fantasy stuff. When the Titanfall console went on sale, I picked one up. No regrets here.

MS knows when they are being hurt. They either adapt or abandon. I'm glad they have consistently listened to consumers and adapted in the case of the Xbox One. (Though I am probably one of the few who liked the idea of always online DRM for the console)

Adam Bishop
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Wait, Infamous is "juvenile power fantasy" but a game where you summon giant rocket launching robots from the sky isn't?

Matthew Mouras
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@Adam - Cute. They are obviously very different games and very different types of power fantasies. Infamous was angst ridden in a way that personally turned me off. I can more easily forgive any power fantasy driven design in Titanfall because the gameplay mechanics are more my speed. It's a small thing. My point was that there are different experiences to be had on the Xbox One and the PS4. The One experiences appealed to me more. The hardware that drives them isn't my primary concern when making a purchase. I'm not a "die hard" MS fan as the OP stated and I bought the One based on games. We do exist and walk among you.

Bryan Powell
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This is disappointingly short-sighted. The great thing about bundling the Kinect was that it gave developers a fixed target. I think we could have and would have seen some really interesting Kinect-integrated gaming experiences in the coming 5-10 years. If the market becomes diluted with Kinect-less XB1's, the potential for those experiences is lessened.

Jarod Smiley
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well maybe sales won't pick up even with the kinect not bundled who knows. MS is just trying to match PS4 at this point and not lose too much market share in the early years.

Ron Dippold
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I think the tradeoff for MS is that so far Kinect 2.0 doesn't seem to be much better than Kinect 1.0 at making games any better (TV watching, yes) and the PS4 is clobbering them right now. It might be short sighted, but consumers aren't buying their long term view - so they're not willing to bet the entire product on the hope that eventually someone will figure out how to use Kinect in a system selling way.

Bryan Powell
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But it's, what, 7 mil to 5 mil? Is that really clobbering?

And what people aren't realizing is that if you take Kinect out of the equation, you lose the XB1's distinguishing factor. Now they're just selling a slightly-less-powerful version of the PS4 for the same price. Where's the appeal in that?

It's interesting to see this and look at the parallels with Iwata talking about staying the course and looking back at the Game Boy as a game-driven late bloomer.

Bob Johnson
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It is 7 mil sold vs 5 mil shipped. The fact MS reported shipped numbers instead of sold says it all. :)

But you do bring up a good point. Not sure this solves their sales numbers problem because as you said there isn't much appeal in having a very similar but less powerful box for the same price either.

And this reeks of short term thinking.

ON the other hand Kinect never seemed like it should have been built-in in the first place. It didn't improve enough over the previous gen to justify it. It's previous 3-4 years on the market didn't bring many outstanding experiences to the table. And consumers had their fun with the initial wow of the tech and moved on. I don't think they were looking to pay for it again so soon for another $100.

Kyle Redd
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Game Informer reported 7.5 million sold to 4.5 million sold today: http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2014/05/13/microso
ft-kinect-and-the-wisdom-of-flip-flopping.aspx

Not sure how they got those numbers, but they're plausible. Regardless, Microsoft is facing a 2:1 ownership ratio against PS4 by sometime around the the end of this year, which would be a significant psychological disadvantage. So it's understandable for them to react strongly to prevent it.

Bob Johnson
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This is why Nintendo didn't want to make a similar box as MS and Sony. They didn't want to get into a big price war.

Ron Dippold
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Now they're counting on exclusives, Bryan.

So Halo the Halo messaging Halo is Halo going Halo to Halo be Halo a Halo lot Halo like Halo this.... Halo.

I know what you're saying about the unique proposition (they've been hammering on that for a year), but at this point, for a gamer, there was no compelling reason whatsoever to get a XB1 over a PS4 except for Titanfall, and Kinect wasn't helping at all.

(Halo)

Jason Wilson
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There are 5 million installed in 5 months and more being produced. That is an excellent start. Microsoft says they are it not just to compete and be profitable, but to win. There is no way they could win or compete with a $100 premium and the negative sentiment on Kinect and other policies.

If MS had wanted Kinect to be adopted, they should done more than pack it in the box. Where were the compelling Kinect games and Kinect game enhancements at launch? Where are they now? The most useful to me in looking into turns in Forza.

The features are nice when they work; the Xbox On command is spotty at best and asore spot for me.

Ron Dippold
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This is less than six months from launch! That's an amazingly fast turnaround.

You knew the bare model was inevitable despite their denials, but I figured they'd give it at least a year. Phil's really going to town.

SD Marlow
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Nice spin, but might as well come out and say "as a result of new leadership..." It seems like all of the things they were pushing before launch have been "reversed" now, with the exception of eSRAM. Maybe they could have taken a huge hit early-on, doubled it's size, and gracefully accepted the weaker early units as returns.

Sony could announce a PS4 price drop to $379 at E3, but I'd be more excited to see a Vita "mini me" bundled in time for the holidays at the same $399 price point (but, that would be super hard since you would also need two controllers... $429 bundle?).

Kujel Selsuru
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Sony can't announce a price drop at all cause they don't have the money to spare.

Simon Ludgate
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"He says, more than 80 percent of Xbox One users actively using Kinect, with an average of 120 voice commands per month on each console."

It's comforting to know that Microsoft is keeping track of everything the Kinect records and storing it in a comprehensive searchable database.

Ron Dippold
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Besides the tracking thing, that's... 'XBox on', 'Xbox off' and two other commands per day. Those are the kind of stats that might lead you to unbundle it.

Matthew Mouras
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ha.

Well... Surely you'll allow them to store some metrics useful to the development of the device before you run and put your tinfoil hat on, right?

Anthony Juba
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Sony does the exact same thing. This is DIRECTLY from Sony, read what you agreed to:

We reserve the right in our sole discretion to monitor and record any or all of your PSN activity and to remove any of your UGM at our sole discretion, without further notice to you. Your use of PSN and our community features may be recorded and collected by us or sent to us by other users as described in 13.1. Any information collected in this way, for example, your UGM, the content of your voice and text communications, video of your gameplay, the time and location of your activities, and your name, your PSN Online ID and IP address, may be used by us or our affiliated companies to enforce these Terms and the SEN Terms of Service, to comply with the law, to protect our rights and those of our licensors and users, and to protect the personal safety of our employees and users. This information may be passed to the police or other appropriate authorities. By accepting these Software Usage Terms, you expressly consent to this.

Simply put, Sony is watching and collecting data from everyone too. No one has privacy anymore, thank the terrorists.

Bob Johnson
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Remember those Kinect usage numbers are from the same MS which reported shipped numbers of the X1 recently instead of sold numbers like their competition did.

Also remember the larger expense of Kinect is the camera!!!! Voice commands could be done with your dirt cheap headset mic or a very inexpensive mic built-into the controller.

Jonathan Jennings
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Now Microsoft finally has my interest in regards to the xbox one .....

John Flush
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Why exactly? Was it the $100 extra that was the inhibitor? the possible tracking implications? Not to support Motion controls? Voice Controls?

It would be interesting to know the reasons why people have been staying away and why losing the Kinect would make any difference.

Jonathan Jennings
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the $100 difference actually was a big difference to me, not so much in that it was a ton of money but as a gaming machine ( which is the primary reason I would buy a PS4 or xbox one ) I already like the PS4's limited library and upcoming release plans more than I liked the xbox one .

Aside from that ( and this is purely my perspective without having really played with a kinect for long more than a few occasions) the kinect seems like a very gimmicky peripheral whose usage in games hasn't wowed me or seemed to innovate the way Microsoft hoped it would .

The most fun I had with a kinect was playing JoyRide and Kinectimals at E3 a few years ago and while I had a lot of fun I think those experiences were enjoyable due to their short durations they weren't really experiences I could see myself enjoying more than once or twice at home .

I've never been onboard or particularly excited for the Kinect so it's absence actually puts Microosoft in a position to give me what I really want and noting extra that I didn't ask for which is Good games .....

that's why I am happy about the option to opt out now with the kinect at least ......

Mike Griffin
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So the first 5~ million owners have Kinect, the next X million owners will not.
That 'fixed spec' of always knowing the XB1 owner has a Kinect is tossed out the window. So much for that seemingly firm strategy.

For all the existing games in development, at least now many teams can say "screw it" and drop any Kinect-heavy features that they were dumping extra time and resources into.

Meanwhile, Sony's in a funny situation in that they can't meet the explosive demand for the PS4 camera.
Sony needs users to have a camera for Morpheus.

How about the augmented reality plans that Microsoft is working on, to be shown at E3? Apparently Kinect was a key ingredient in that equation.

This generation's VR-AR plans are officially fragmented for both Sony and MS with this announcement.

Oh well, bring on the expensive accessory bundles for Morpheus and the Xbox One quasi-VR/AR. That's where we're at.

Michael DeFazio
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I haven't seen a single thing in the entire Xbone pipeline dealing with Kinect that has any "Wow Factor" whatsoever... I don't know if MS just didnt read the tealeaves or what, but it seemed like the Kinect was relegated to "gimmick" status, because they never showcased anything that seemed like an improvement over the original... (I curious what convinced them to try to go with Kinect 2.0 when they themselves didnt seem to have more than fleeting interest in developing the ecosystem...

I think it would have behooved them to
A) make the original Kinect less expensive, and more open to develop for to garner some developer interest. (Why they made the PC version more expensive REALLY turned me off)
b) show something TANGIBLE that makes a person understand why they are paying for Kinect 2.0 (and why the "old/cheap Kinect1.0 couldnt do X, or Y, or Z) better camera and voice recognition is great, but what does that matter (hwo can we make this useful)?

Basically this screams "We are abandoning Kinect altogether"... which is kinda a shame, I think the combination of VR and something like Kinect (with voice commands) really has potential.

Bob Johnson
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Exactly. They had business reasons for Kinect, but no tangible and exceptional entertainment demonstration of it. IT was very typical MS. Kind of junky and we'll fix it later inclusion. This works for office or OS software in which you have monopoly market share. Not so much for a ground up entertainment product costing $100 more than your competition.

Tony Dormanesh
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I was so against bundled Kinect (and Kinect in general), but my wife bought us one and now I love it.

Tony Dormanesh
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I was so against bundled Kinect (and Kinect in general), but my wife bought us one and now I love it.

Dane MacMahon
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As a PC gamer I have no dog in this fight, but from an outsider's perspective Microsoft come across as desperate. I don't know how much that hurts them, but it's off-putting to me personally. Consumers want to back a winner.

Terry Matthes
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It's about damn time!

James Coote
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Aren't we, as game developers, at least partly to blame for a lack of imagination? First the Wii U gamepad, now Kinect. Pretty soon platform holders will be unwilling to take any significant risks with hardware and we'll all be all the poorer for it.

Jonathan Jennings
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I think if you bet big on a gimmick it's your job to make sure that it's a Gimmick developers are willing to explore right ?

The console manufacturers give us these technological canvases to create awesome new experiences with but do we create our games to take advantage of the hardware or should the hardware be developed to give us as developers the best ability to do the most we can with our games ?

I feel like it's a balance they give us new and innovative hardware that we want to work with , and we in turn create experiences that maximize the potential of said new innovative hardware .

Dane MacMahon
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Risk and innovation aren't inherently good things. I think a lot of developers need to get it out of their heads that they will be the ones to push something new on people who don't expect to like it. That's a super rare occurrence.


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