Microsoft lowers Xbox One price to $400 without Kinect

Is the $500 asking price of Xbox One too rich for your blood? Turns out you're not alone, and Microsoft's responding: the price of the Xbox One is dropping to $400, and the company's dropping Kinect from the box as well. Starting June 9th, the Xbox One will be sold in a second bundle sans Kinect (a standalone version of Xbox One's Kinect will be available "this fall," should you wish to add one later on). The "premium" bundle with Kinect packed-in will stick around after that, though it is clear why Microsoft made today's move: sales numbers. Though the Xbox One is doing well at around 5 million units, it's lagging behind Sony's PlayStation 4 to the tune of several million units.

"There's a lot about Kinect that I really love," Xbox head Phil Spencer says in a video released alongside the news. "We've also heard from people that they just like to play games with a controller in their hand." Spencer and co. are painting today's news as a response to consumers -- the blog post is titled, "Delivering More Choices for Fans," even -- but it's hard to see it as anything other than a straight business decision. Microsoft's initial coming out for Xbox One was held up by three pillars, one of which was going "all-in" on Kinect. Today's news rolls back that pillar.

It's not a question of people using Kinect, apparently. Microsoft says that over 80 percent of Xbox One owners are "actively" using Kinect. The other 20 percent are assuredly stewing in anger over saying "Xbox On" six or seven times without it working.

Today's news is the latest walkback from Microsoft's initial vision for the Xbox One, unveiled last May in a day-long Redmond, Wash. event. The price cut is just one of two major announcements from Microsoft's Xbox division today: the long-running Xbox Live service is taking a variety of services out from behind its paywall (known as an Xbox Live "Gold Membership"), making them free to all Xbox One and 360 users.