PlayStation owners aren't the only ones suffering a bereavement today. Microsoft has announced plans to "sunset" Xbox Fitness, its Kinect-powered workout app for Xbox One. As of yesterday, Xbox Fitness content can no longer be purchased. In a year's time - from 1st July 2017 - support will be pulled entirely, and even owners will no longer be able to download or play the workouts they've bought. The Free With Gold offer that allowed Xbox Live Gold members to access over 30 workouts as part of their subscription will be removed on December 15th.
It sounds like Xbox Fitness didn't have enough customers to support continued production. "Given the service relies on providing you with new and exciting content regularly, Microsoft has given much consideration to the reality of updating the service regularly in order to sustain it. Therefore, the decision has been made to scale back our support for Xbox Fitness over the next year," wrote Microsoft Studios' Erica Bell.
What's particularly upsetting owners, though, is that content they've paid for won't be accessible in any form after the 1st July 2017 shutdown. Microsoft is unequivocal on this: "On July 1, 2017, Xbox Fitness (and all associated content) will no longer be available for download/play. This includes content you've purchased. At that time, Xbox Fitness will no longer be available for download from Xbox Marketplace and content will not be available for play from the Xbox Marketplace nor within the game. Xbox Fitness users will no longer be able access Xbox Fitness and the associated workouts/programs."
"My worst fears about buying into digital or cloud-dependent content are realized," said commenter scH4MMER. "Basically the message is: if you buy something on the cloud, plan on having it taken away from you before you're done with it, and don't expect a refund." Some users have suggested transforming the service into a standalone app so that its content can live on after the servers are shut down.
Xbox Fitness launched with Xbox One in November 2013, and was emblematic of Xbox's Don Mattrick era: a mass-market, non-gaming service leveraging the Kinect technology. Its fortunes were inevitably linked to Kinect's, and the motion sensor itself is now being swiftly wound down by Microsoft: software for it has dried up and the new Xbox One S requires an adapter to work with it at all. In December last year, Microsoft made it possible to play Xbox Fitness without Kinect - but it seems that hasn't helped its fortunes.