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No more Kinect means Xbox One devs get 10% GPU boost in June SDK
No more Kinect means Xbox One devs get 10% GPU boost in June SDK
June 4, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

In its June developer kit update for the Xbox One, Microsoft is giving developers more access to GPU bandwidth thanks to the removal of the Kinect from the package, the company has announced.

The news first broke when Xbox head Phil Spencer Tweeted about it, saying the change brings developers "more performance, new tools, and flexibility to make games better."

A Microsoft spokesperson later clarified that the removal of Kinect from the Xbox One was at least in part what made this possible. "In June we're releasing a new SDK making it possible for developers to access additional GPU resources previously reserved for Kinect and system functions," the spokesperson told Eurogamer, also confirming that "the additional resources allow access to up to 10 per cent additional GPU performance."

The Kinect-free Xbox One package will be released next week, which shaves $100 off of the price, bringing its price in line with -- or, in some territories, cheaper than -- Sony's PlayStation 4.

Developers have in some cases struggled to get games running on the Xbox One with the same performance they see on the PlayStation 4, which has no such requirement for its optional camera.

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Ron Dippold
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If the Unbundling didn't kill the Kinect, then 'You can have Kinect support or you can have 10% more power' is another body shot and possibly a worse one.

On the plus side this discourages cramming in superficial, almost never beneficial, voice control for cross platform games. On the negative side, nobody will be using Kinect unless the game really needs it. Which is fantastic from a design standpoint, but will there be enough games?

Ujn Hunter
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I've been using voice controls on my PS4, not sure which cross platform games use it on Xbox One that don't on PS4? They work best when they are not necessary (which I haven't run into a game where they are, but guess I wouldn't seeing the PS4 camera is optional) but add a nice option of being there if you want it. Saying "shotgun" in Tomb Raider for instance is nice instead of cycling through weapons, or remembering which directional button is the shotgun, etc...

On the first point you made, I don't see how they can even do that... people who bought the original Xbox One w/ Kinect need to disconnect it now to be able to play games designed without Kinect in mind? Sounds crazy.

Jamie Mann
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As per the Ars Technica article from back in October, Microsoft had always planned to "release" this extra power back to developers:

This is therefore NOTHING to do with unbundling the Kinect, though it's worth noting/quoting AT's extrapolation of Microsoft's announcement:

The spokesperson went on to tell Ars that the new SDK "will include new options for how developers can use the system reserve as well as more flexibility in our natural user interface reserve (voice and gesture)." Reading between the lines, this seems to imply that developers may need to eschew the use of Kinect-specific voice and gesture-recognition features in their games to make the most use of the newly available slice of GPU power.

It'll be interesting to see how many developers choose to throw extra horsepower at the "core" gameplay experience or continue to develop Kinect-related "checkbox" features (e.g. gesture controls)...

Ron Dippold
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@Jamie: I don't think this is because of the Unbundling, but that combined with the Unbundling it's a multiplicative reason not to waste resources developing for it.

@Ujin Hunter: I don't think you need to disconnect your Kinect. It will still work for watching TV and navigating the dashboard. Rather, when you launch a game at that point the game can decide to soft disable it to access the currently reserved time. Presumably when you hit the XButton and the game sleeps your Dashboard Kinect controls will start working again tillthe game resumes.

Jamie Mann
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TBH, I suspect it's going to be like the Wii: games will still have Kinect features shoehorned into them because the company's marketing division wants to make sure there's a "Kinect Compatible" checkbox on the back of the gamecase.

At least this means that the developers can hopefully keep said compatibility to a minimum!

Nathan Mates
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The Wii launched with a bundled title (Wii Sports) that demonstrated in a fairly clear & convincing way what the new tech of the system could do. The WiiU & Xbox One however didn't.

Brad Borne
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Er, the Wii U didn't? Guess you haven't played 5 player Nintendo Land...

And about as many post-Nintendo Land games make use of the GamePad as post Wii Sports games made of motion control.

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Don't lump the Wii U into this. The Wii U Gamepad does in fact integrate nicely with many games across the Wii U platform and not in a clunky, 50%-35% working way. There are games and functions that are made extremely effective by the pad:
-surfing the internet.
-streaming vid on the browser while surfing at the same time.
-duel screen gaming.
-motion control options in games.
-Touch screen gaming options for menu items and / or keyboard chatting.
-TV and cable box control.
-Multi options for streaming movies through Hulu, Youtube, Amazon, and Netflix.
-One button push OS start options.
-and soon NFC / NFP connection options.

Nintendo has demonstrated that the Gamepad was not just an after though used to steal away consumers from another platform that did something similar, s Kinect was trying to be what the Wii Mote was to the Wii. I think as they further demonstrate and morph the Gamepad functions to better meet the need of it's consumers, the next version of it will be a welcome addition to gaming on a TV.

andreas grontved
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This is hilarious. sorry.

Dave Hoskins
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10% ?!
Yeah, it's not like Microsoft to waste resources.
How does it compare to the PS4 now?

Nick Harris
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Microsoft is innumerate:

100 - 10% = 90
90 + 10% = 99

90 + 11% = 99.9

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If I was an early adopter of the Xbox One, I would be a little upset about this.

I guess as long as you have developers on board with this kind of give things for taking away functions it should be good for some short term praises.

However I don't think this is so much about lagging behind just the PS4 as it is now them also lagging behind some video game console called Wii U. which is slowly building momentum while Nintendo starts the process of giving firm release dates for its core library of top selling games as we speak.

Ujn Hunter
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MS seems like it is trying to play catchup, but removing the one thing that made their machine unique and effectively making it a weaker version of the PS4, with crummier exclusives than the Wii U. They should have just left the Kinect in place and dropped the price of their machine to match the Wii U. They may as well just give up.

George Menhal III
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Now make a genuinely good Fable game and I might consider buying the console after another $100 price drop.

Terry Matthes
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Unless you have a bunch of space the new Kinect is hard to use.

That being said a ton of the games I've played with Kinect (360 and Xbox One) aren't developed with the Kinect in mind regarding user interface. Small buttons can be maddeningly hard to press. I get it, it's neat, but other than getting around the Xbox System UI or using voice (which is spotty let me tell you, especially if there is background noise) I would rather not interact with it.