Microsoft has announced that it will sell its Xbox One console without the Kinect sensor from 9 June.
The company said that unbundling the motion sensor will give gamers “more options”. The Xbox One will be sold for $399 in the US and £350 in the UK – the same price as Sony’s rival PS4.
The announcement marks a significant change in Microsoft’s strategy, having previously insisted that the Kinect was an integral part of the gaming experience for the Xbox.
However, bundling the motion sensor as standard meant that Sony could undercut the Xbox One on price – a factor that will have contributed at least partly to the PS4’s current lead in sales.
Sony has sold more than seven million PlayStation 4s since its launch last year while Microsoft has shipped more than five million in the same time period.
A standalone Kinect sensor for the Xbox One will go on sale later this Autumn.
The Kinect, which was originally introduced for the Xbox 360 in 2010, was praised for its innovative approach to gaming but failed to take off with customers - an outcome which some blame on the lack of fully-formed Kinect games, with developers unwilling to commit to creating titles for an audience that might not own the right equipment.
Bundling the Kinect with the Xbox One was intended to fix this uncertainty but it seems the plan has at least partly failed. Microsoft says the motion sensor remains an “important part” of the company’s vision, noting that more than 80 per cent of Xbox One owners use it regularly – issuing 120 voice commands per month per console.
“We will continue to offer a premium Xbox One with Kinect bundle to deliver voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalisation, instant scanning of QR codes, and enhanced features only available with Kinect in games such as Kinect Sports Rivals, Just Dance 2014, Project Spark and more,” said the company in a blog post.