Here’s what the Xbox One developer update does, and does not, mean for performance and Kinect

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There’s seems to be a modicum of confusion surrounding the decoupling of the Kinect and Xbox One bundle, and an upcoming update to game developers’ software development kits (SDK) that will allow Xbox One game creators to extract ten percent more power out of the console’s graphics processing unit.

The confusion seems to have arisen surrounding the features and functionality that will remain available once developers begin to make use of that extra horsepower, which was previously reserved for processing related to Kinect for full body motion tracking and other tasks.

To clear up any misconceptions, the team at Xbox has released a lengthy question and answer session conducted with the Director of Development at Xbox Software Engineering, Kareem Choudhry, to help shed some light on the situation for those a little bemused by the whole thing.


To begin, it’s important to know that Kinect’s ‘platform level’ voice commands like ‘Xbox On,’ ‘Xbox, Record That,’ and ‘Xbox, Go Home’ will continue to work the way they do at the moment, no matter what. Also, unplugging or keeping your Kinect plugged in will continue to have no affect on Xbox One performance whatsoever.

It’s also important to know that current and future Xbox One games will not automatically benefit from the freeing up of additional graphics processing power. It will be up to individual developers, once they have received the June SDK update and worked to implement changes to their games, to take advantage of the extra power.

If developers choose to use the additional processing power made available by the June SDK, processor intensive Kinect functionality like full body motion tracking as seen in games like Dance Central and Kinect Sports Rivals, will not work, but voice commands will continue to work as before. When switching from a specific game that uses the extra horsepower to Home or another application, however, body tracking will be re-enabled.


– Games like Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive will benefit from the freed up GPU power

Choudhry has confirmed that games like Destiny and Sunset Overdrive will make use of the extra ten percent graphics processing power afforded to them without using Kinect’s intensive functionality, letting Bungie bring Destiny to parity with the PlayStation 4 version of the game (running at 1080p at 30 frames per second on both consoles), while Insomniac is hard at work increasing the particle and character count in Sunset Overdrive thanks to the additional power.

It will be up to developers to take advantage of this power in their future games, or even go back and improve their previous games, with the trade-off of not being able to use the more processor intensive functions of Kinect.

Does this make sense? We hope it does, but you can read through the full interview with Kareem Choudhry in case a wire has been crossed along the way.

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