On November 12, Microsoft will be giving the Xbox One a huge software facelift, dubbed the New Xbox Experience. But while the update will add Xbox 360 backward compatibility, Kinect navigation gestures (think Minority Report) are getting booted off. The reason: It was hardly used.
In an interview with Director of Xbox Program Development at Windows Central, Mike Ybarra reasoned that Kinect navigation usage was low, leading Team Xbox to quietly phase out the feature.
On gestures, when we looked at the New Xbox One Experience we wanted to prioritize features that customers were asking for, plus areas of improvement from the existing Xbox One UI. Then, we wanted to look at the use-case model of features that take a lot of investment and say, “is it worth continuing to invest in that area?”
With gestures, the reality was the usage was very, very low. So for now, we’ve cut that from the New Xbox One Experience. So when we launch on the 12th, they won’t be in the product. We’ll continue to monitor and listen to feedback to see if people want them in.
Though Ybarra does allude to the feature’s potential return, it’s a long shot. Introduced in 2009, Kinect was ballyhooed as the future of video games, enabling voice and hand-movement menu navigation, a crystal-clear webcam for Twitch streaming and Kinect games like Dance Central. With Kinect, Xbox was almost something out of Star Trek.
While the Kinect did have a vocal fanbase, it may only be a matter of time before Xbox has moved on completely from its multi-year experiment.