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Xbox One to drop Kinect and price, Gold requirement for apps removed

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Microsoft made a shocking but not totally unexpected Xbox One announcement Tuesday. The console is dropping the Kinect and the total price of the console by $100 to become more competitive with Sony’s Playstation 4. The company also confirmed the rumor that it would drop the requirement of Xbox LIVE Gold to access entertainment apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

The Xbox One will come in a Kinect-less version for $399 starting on June 9 in all markets where the console is sold. “Your feedback matters to us and it shapes the products and services we build. Your feedback showed up in the Xbox One console we launched back in November and in the monthly updates we’ve delivered since,” Xbox Head Phil Spencer wrote in a post on Xbox Wire.

Games with Gold will also make its way to the Xbox One in June with “Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood” and “Halo: Spartan Assault” as the first two offerings for Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers who own the console. A Deals with Gold program will also launch in June for the Xbox One with 50 – 75 percent off select titles starting with “Forza Motorsport 5,” “Ryse: Son of Rome” and what is described as additional surprises.

The Xbox 360 version of the Games with Gold program will be expanding in June as well with three games instead of the usual two – “Dark Souls,” “Charlie Murder” and “Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.” It will also be eligible for the Deals with Gold which includes a “virtual VIP room” that “will feature free games, monthly deals, and other great benefits.”

Finally, the Xbox LIVE Gold requirement to watch entertainment apps will be removed in June as well. That means you’ll be able to access Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Skype, OneDrive, Internet Explorer, the NFL App and more will all be available to use without a Gold subscription.

Spencer says that Microsoft is still committed to Kinect. However, “We’ve heard that you want more choices from Xbox One. You want a wide variety of options in your games and entertainment experiences and you also want options in your hardware selection.”

Microsoft and the Xbox One have been criticized since the console's launch due to its price being $100 more than the PS4. The reason for the price difference was always the Kinect which made some wonder why Microsoft stuck with making the sensor a required pack-in when it so obviously put the console at a competitive disadvantage. A change in leadership at Xbox and the PS4 gaining a healthy lead of more than 7 million PS4 consoles sold to customers versus around 4 million for the Xbox One led to today's decision.

It does bring up one interesting question. Announcements like this and the recent "Sunset Overdrive" reveal are typically reserved for E3. What does Microsoft have planned for its E3 media briefing scheduled for June 9?

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