Word is getting out (via Ars Technica) that Microsoft is not including a headset with their Xbox One console. Now before you scream ‘rip-off!’, think about it for just a moment. Think about all those Xbox headsets you’ve owned, used and more importantly, not used.
The Original Xbox Headset
Microsoft’s relationship with Plantronics started with this short-lived communicator, dubbed the Xbox Communicator. Using a “street style” around the back brace, you could freely move the mono speaker/headset from one side to the other at your preference. That is, until the armature that allowed it to click into the brace snapped. …and it always snapped. Also: losing that puck that the headset plugged into? No bueno. This originally came with the $35 Xbox Live Starter Kit with some demos and plugged into the top of the controller, taking over a memory card port. Wearing one of these felt like you were in the future since every game supported it, which was fine until other people started talking into. Highlight of this era of Xbox Live? Voice modulation. You could sound like a robot or a little girl or a demon or whatever and it’s sad that this functionality never made it to the 360…
The Xbox 360 Headset
For their second round, Microsoft made everything better with their headset. They employed a stationary swivel with the microphone so you could mount it on either side of your head with a simple twist. They also simplified the ‘puck’ by not needing a puck at all and building the connector right into the headset. This was particularly useful when plugged into a wireless controller in an era before Bluetooth headsets took off. Not that you should ever have one.
It was during this era that I’d become disinterested in playing competitively and the idea of sitting on my couch/bed/whatever and slipping on a headset seemed super silly. I don’t mind doing it at my desk with PC games, but with a console? Eh. Xbox One is changing that up, though.
The Xbox One Kinect
Look, you guys wanted a reason from Microsoft ot justify the extra $100 for the Kinect and they have delivered. In place of a headset, Microsoft just wants you to talk out loud to your online competitors. Remember the new Kinect is an incredibly powerful sensor and can weed out not just where you are, but also who’s talking and what’s just background noise. Ditch the headset, make the stuff intuitive. Naturally, this isn’t a great fit if you’re trying to keep it down – like in a college dorm situation – but it’ll work so much better for everything else.
Plus, it’s included in the system. *wink*