Mike Ybarra, the corporate vice-president for Xbox, has said on Twitter that he thinks VR is not yet “worthwhile,” emphasizing the unlikely future of Xbox VR. Responding to a request for recommended VR games and applications, Ybarra wrote, “Google Earth is cool but not even close to what is needed to make the tech worthwhile. Sigh.”
This sentiment reinforces the attitude of the Xbox team regarding virtual reality following the comments made last year by Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer for Gaming Mike Nichols saying that the company doesn’t have “any plans specific to Xbox consoles in virtual reality or mixed reality.” Ybarra wields significant influence over the technology that Xbox invests in for the future, so any fans hoping to see support for VR or mixed reality on their Xbox consoles will likely be disappointed.
While this means we won’t see Xbox VR any time soon, Microsoft has an invariably different perspective on their PC approach. The developers at Microsoft continue to work on the HoloLens, and have partnered with organizations including Samsung, Lenovo, and Acer to bring a wide array of mixed reality headsets to the PC.
Back at E3 2017, Phil Spencer was adamant there was a future for VR on the Xbox One X in particular, but since then has expressed similar doubts on the current capabilities of VR applications. In contrast, Sony invested in their own PSVR headset for the PS4, demonstrating their belief in the permanence of VR in the console sphere. This move appears to have been successful, with the PSVR headset selling 1.3 million units in 2018 alone, showcasing the demand for VR on modern consoles.
It remains to be seen whether Xbox VR will eventually become a reality, but the attitude of the Xbox team certainly suggests that it won’t be coming in the near future.