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One of the biggest points of contention since the launch of the Xbox One last year was the inclusion of the Kinect, the motion-sensing, voice-command-hearing gaming peripheral that some say jacked the price of the console a hundred dollars higher than that of its next-gen rival, Sony’s PlayStation 4. Microsoft has said for months that the Kinect will always be bundled with the console, but an analyst group predicts that the company will reverse course by next year.

According to a report from IDC, Microsoft will cave in due to “competitive pressures,” which will force the company “to unbundle the Kinect sensor from its Xbox One console in 2015.” This move, explains the company’s Gaming Research Director Lewis Ward, will be a major factor in Microsoft’s efforts to close the gap between the install bases of the Xbox One and the PS4. Not only that, but apparently that’ll give the Xbox One the edge here in the United States:

“If Microsoft unbundles the Kinect sensor from the Xbox One console as we expect in 2015, this should lead to rough price parity with the PS4 and reset the sales dynamic at retail. We project this change will lead to enough of a console sales bump that Xbox One will emerge with the largest installed base of any console in North America by the end of 2016. The PS4 should still lead globally, but the unbundling of Kinect and Xbox One should move the sales needle enough to give Xbox One the installed base edge in the United States and Canada before the end of 2016.”

None of this sounds implausible, either. When the Xbox One was first unveiled, Microsoft had announced a strict DRM-style policy that made game lending and used game buying and selling more complicated than it is now. After the Internet went nuts, the company reversed course and the Xbox One handles discs much the same way its predecessor, the Xbox 360, did (albeit with game installs this time out). And while Microsoft has said that the Kinect is an important part of the Xbox One, the fact is that this just isn’t true. The biggest games are still multi-platform affairs like Call of Duty or Madden, and voice control for gaming still isn’t something most gamers want. That goes double for motion control.

On the flipside, if Microsoft releases a competing virtual reality headset—which could utilize the Kinect’s motion-tracking features to orient a player’s head and hand movements in the virtual game-space—then bundling the Kinect with the Xbox One might be revealed to have been a brilliant move. But at this point, charging an extra hundred dollars for a peripheral no one really wants is helping to preserve Sony’s console lead.

[Source: IDC via Neowin]

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