Microsoft is playing the perfect salesman and sweetening the deal on the Xbox One bundle with the introduction of an all new service. Tonight Microsoft unveiled Xbox Fitness, a robust exercise online service that ties the Xbox One's Kinect with hugely popular fitness programs like P90x and INSANITY, along with trainers including Jillian Michaels, Tracy Anderson and others. Best yet, Xbox Fitness will be offered free with and Xbox Gold membership through December 2014.
Kinect, which Microsoft has had to work hard in justifying bundling with the Xbox One, plays a significant part in the Xbox Fitness service. While using Kinect Fitness the Kinect can be used to monitor heart rate in addition to more complex readings. That includes what Microsoft describes as balance, weight transfer, tempo, form and performance. Or so Microsoft says. The trailer below gives an idea of how that works, but in practice? We'll see.
INSANITY's trainer Shaun T provided the following comments on Xbox Fitness:
"What makes Xbox Fitness so innovative is the feedback it gives you. The Kinect sensor can evaluate your form, tell how high you’re jumping, how hard you’re punching and even read your heart rate. It’s that little missing piece of validation that hasn’t been possible for home fitness products before. Xbox Fitness completes the puzzle."
Where things get complicated is in the fact that Microsoft's press release in almost entirely written in marketing speak. Until we see some live demos, have some gamers run things through the ropes, well, all we really know is how disappointing the previous Kinect was. Also, while dropping names like P90x goes a long way, until we know what specific videos or services are available, again, we have to remain skeptical.
Alright, now that the skepticism is out of the way let me be honest: Xbox Fitness could be epic. Fitness programs are already a huge market in gaming, but if Microsoft can make available an interactable fitness service with programs like P90x then that's something well beyond expectations. We could be seeing the first truly legitimate justification for bundling the Kinect with the Xbox One right here. Of course, that's from a personal perspective.
From monetary value perspective, Microsoft is granting Gold users access for a year since the Xbox Fitness should be released this holiday. After that year is up, you can bet your butt Microsoft will charge between $50-100 a year for access to the service. Sure, this first year may be sort of a glorified beta, but it's a valuable beta for certain.
Xbox Fitness will be available on Xbox One holiday season 2013, which means they're not quite sure if it'll be ready for the console's launch yet. Keep in mind the Xbox One won't be released until November 22, which is about a one month launch window for Xbox Fitness. Pretty solid move by Microsoft. Damn, it's great to have the console wars back.