Microsoft Backpedals On Planned Xbox One VR Rollout, Here’s Why
If you have been holding your breath waiting for Microsoft to release a VR accessory for its Xbox One console, go ahead and refill your lungs with oxygen, there is no point in turning blue in the face. Despite previous plans to embrace VR on the console side of the equation, it's not coming to the Xbox One. Instead, Microsoft is limited its VR and mixed reality focus to the PC, which it believes is "probably the best platform" for such things.
Microsoft's chief marketing officer for gaming, Mike Nichols, revealed the company's stance in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, saying the focus on the Xbox One does include VR or MR.
"We don't have any plans specific to Xbox consoles in virtual reality or mixed reality," Nichols said. "Our perspective on it has been and continues to be that the PC is probably the best platform for more immersive VR and MR. As an open platform, it just allows faster, more rapid iteration."
That might be right, though Sony is seeing interest in VR on its PlayStation 4 console—at the end of 2017, Sony noted it sold over 2 million PlayStation VR units in just over a year, and that number has undoubtedly jumped in the six additional months that have passed. Nichols did not mention the PSVR specifically, but did note that hardware makers have invested in VR experiences outside of the PC.
"There are plenty of companies investing in it in the hardware side and the content side, or some combination therein. Obviously on phones, augmented reality is a good scenario as well that's going to grow. But as it relates to Xbox, no. Our focus is primarily on experiences you would play on your TV, and ultimately we'd like to make those experiences more broadly," Nichols added.
News of Microsoft's about-face comes two years after the introduction of the Xbox One X in June 2016. At the time, Microsoft's Phil Spencer called it the "most powerful console ever built," noting that it is "hardware built specifically to lead the console industry into true 4K gaming and high fidelity VR." He also said the Xbox One X was capable of "premiere VR experiences," though apparently Xbox One owners will never see them.
Of course, Microsoft's stance could change (again). In the here and now, however, it looks like Microsoft is laser focused on VR and MR experiences on the PC. Maybe that will change when the next generation Xbox arrives, reportedly in 2020.