Microsoft Kills off Kinect (For Good This Time) With Xbox Series X

Microsoft Kills off Kinect (For Good This Time) With Xbox Series X
Graphic: Microsoft

You know that dust-covered Kinect you have tucked away with a menagerie of other electronics and chords? Well, you can go on ignoring it.

On Thursday Microsoft confirmed its Xbox Series X won’t support the Kinect and the console’s backward compatibility — a feature that’s been heavily hyped in the lead up to its release — won’t extend to games designed for the peripheral.

“It’s our intent for all Xbox One games that do not require Kinect to play on Xbox Series X at the launch of the console,” wrote CEO Phil Spencer in a blog post detailing Microsoft’s Xbox plans (including the launch date of xCloud and its integration with Game Pass).

And in case that wasn’t clear enough, Spencer later told the Verge in no uncertain terms, “[t]here’s no way for Kinect to work” on the Series X.

It’s hardly a surprise given what Microsoft’s revealed of its upcoming console so far. Thanks to promotional images, we’ve known for months that the Series X lacks the kind of proprietary Kinect port found on the Xbox One. Microsoft’s newest consoles, the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, are also missing this port, but Kinect games could still be played via a USB adaptor. After killing off the Kinect in 2017, Microsoft discontinued these adapters the next year, so it’s little wonder why it decided to drop support for them on the Series X.

Though this news is far from shocking, it still feels like the end of a wild chapter in Microsoft’s history. Originally launched as an accessory for the Xbox 360 in 2010, the Kinect was widely seen as Microsoft’s response to the Nintendo Wii Remote, a way to blend motion controls and gaming (albeit minus the controller you could accidentally fling into your TV). It never garnered the kind of mainstream success Nintendo’s Wii did, though, and by the time the Xbox One released in 2013, its death knells were already loud and clear.

The quirky peripheral later found a bit of a second life as a module for developers, and its tech helped form the foundation of Microsoft’s HoloLens, but as a consumer product, the Kinect’s descended into the gadget graveyard a long time ago.

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In Thursday’s blog post, Spencer emphasised that, barring a few exceptions, the vast majority of Xbox’s library will still be available on the Series X.

“Our backward compatibility engineers have spent years devising innovative ways for modern, next-gen technology to make the games library you’re building today even better, at no additional cost and with no work from developers,” he wrote.

It’s true, out of literally hundreds of titles, the lack of Kinect support only affects a few dozen games. And honestly, was anyone still playing them anyway? The Just Dance series might be the only exception, but given that it’s available on just about every other platform on the market, I think fans will be OK.

Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.