In an official blog post today, Microsoft has clarified a few things about the recent revelation that developers can access additional GPU bandwidth on the console, which was once reserved for the Kinect. The company also explains their stance on the Kinect, amidst the $399 Kinect-less Xbox One offering.
"We continue to believe that Kinect delivers a premium experience for Xbox One, and we’re committed to Kinect. Kinect games will still have full Kinect support, and we will continue to have the $499 (USD) bundle with Kinect available for people that want the complete Xbox One experience," Microsoft stated in an official blog post.
As part of the June XDK (Xbox Development Kit) update, Microsoft is granting game developers access to additional GPU bandwidth. Developers will now have access to 10% more bandwidth, which was previously reserved for system level processing. This included Kinect-related skeletal tracking data. The way it works is simple - Games that are not using skeletal tracking with Kinect can choose to use that portion of the system reserve for other purposes.
"We have also optimized the entire system so that titles have access to 100% of the Xbox One GPU for increased resolution and graphical effects," Microsoft explained.
"We continue to believe that Kinect delivers a premium experience for Xbox One"
So what features are lost if developers utilize the 10% performance boost? Kinect Depth and infrared sensors which enable biometric sign-in skeletal tracking, controller pairing, etc, will no longer work. Developers are able to disable Kinect depth and infrared sensing in different parts of their games if they so choose. However, the full Kinect experience, including skeletal tracking, is automatically re-enabled when the user switches back to the home screen or other apps. This performance improvement is only within the game.
Commands such as Xbox One and Xbox Record That will still work, as well as any in-game speech commands. The Kinect RGB color camera will continue to work, along with Snap mode.
"Whether a Kinect is attached or detached will not impact extra GPU processing capability. It is up to developers to utilize the June XDK for games in development to take advantage of these additional GPU resources," Microsoft explained.
Upcoming game titles like "Destiny" and "Sunset Overdrive" have already begun to utilize this option of having a 10% boost during gameplay, and Microsoft is working with developers to ensure they know how to properly utilize this ability.