The next Xbox won’t be VR-ready because “nobody’s asking” for virtual reality with the upcoming console, boss Phil Spencer said. Despite Sony leaning heavily into VR with its PSVR headset, Microsoft does not feel the need to compete right now, though may change its stance in the future.
When the Xbox One X was first unveiled as Project Scorpio, Microsoft suggested that the console would be VR-ready. However, the company has pivoted away from VR in recent years, with it maintaining this stance for the upcoming next Xbox, codenamed Project Scarlett.
Now Spencer has said that its customers aren’t looking for VR with the next-generation Xbox, and that he believes virtual reality is “isolating” while games are “communal.”
Speaking in an interview with Stevivor at XO19, Spencer said:
“I have some issues with VR — it’s isolating and I think of games as a communal, kind of together experience. We’re responding to what our customers are asking for and… nobody’s asking for VR. The vast majority of our customers know if they want a VR experience, there’s places to go get those. We see the volumes of those on PC and other places.”
Spencer also added that VR companies failing to sell “millions and millions” of headsets is another reason behind the decision, though also added that Xbox “might get there” eventually and begin working on VR for Xbox.
Considering the Xbox team has been quiet on the VR front, it isn’t surprising that Spencer doesn’t want to shift to virtual reality for the next Xbox. However, virtual reality has had something of a resurgence in 2019, with the likes of the standalone Oculus Quest providing a much more convenient and budget-friendly entry point for those looking to try out the technology.
Still, VR headsets aren’t exactly in every household, and though Sony has seen success with the PSVR it’s understandable why Xbox would want to step away from the technology. The focus of the Xbox team is to deliver a more popular follow-up to the Xbox One, a console that was blighted at launch by its over-reliance on the Kinect; Spencer likely doesn’t want to repeat history by tying the next Xbox launch to a VR headset.