Phil Spencer: VR won't be a focus of the next Xbox

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

It appears that Spencer has never been virtual reality’s biggest advocate. Back in 2016 before the console’s release, he said that VR would come to the Xbox One X when it didn’t feel like “demos and experiments.”

The Microsoft exec says he doesn’t love that quote because he’s not trying to “demean the work that people are doing in VR,” but that doesn’t mean his opinion on the technology has improved. Speaking to Stevivor at X019, 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.”

As with everything in life, money is also a factor: “nobody’s selling millions and millions” of VR units, Spencer added.

Microsoft might not have much faith in virtual reality, but rival Sony looks to be embracing VR for its PS5, probably because the PSVR has been a relative success on the PS4. The Japanese giant is rumored to be developing a wireless headset that features a 2560 x 1440 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 120-degree field of view, AR capabilities, and works for five hours before needing a recharge. It’s also said to cost $250 when released, which could be alongside the PlayStation 5.

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scavengerspc

TS Booster
I was skeptical at first, but I got the PSVR and have to say that some of the titles are pretty amazing. Now, just because VR isn't a "focus", does this mean that the next XBox won't have it at all? Or just not be as prominent...
All true but he did say it. Sometimes that's all it takes.

So now the Microsoft pattern of self-destruction begins.
Let's all take bets on who at MS will say the next thing that turns players off.
 

Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
"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."

VR is no more isolating then modern games, which are essentially devoid of local co-op.

Of course none of his customers are asking for VR, that's why the PSVR moved record units. I can't believe that Microsoft is this ignorant to just allow it's competitor to sell millions of units while it apparently shrugs. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised though, this is the same company that thought people would pay $100 for a spy bar, force included with every console.
 
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psycros

TS Evangelist
Spencer is taking exactly the right approach. The market isn't there yet because the hardware is overpriced and the games are only now starting to take full advantage of it. VR will also do for the eyes what headphones have done for the ears - create totally avoidable health problems.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
Makes sense as console gamers are usually pretty casual gamers. It is primarily hardcore gamers that are interested in VR and you aren't a hardcore gamer unless you have a PC.
 

Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
Spencer is taking exactly the right approach. The market isn't there yet because the hardware is overpriced and the games are only now starting to take full advantage of it. VR will also do for the eyes what headphones have done for the ears - create totally avoidable health problems.
The PSVR has sold 4.2 million units. Clearly the market is there.
 

neeyik

TS Evangelist
Staff member
The PSVR has sold 4.2 million units. Clearly the market is there.
But not as a percentage of the userbase - with over 100 million PS4 units sold, Microsoft could well be thinking 'why bother developing something for just 4% of our users?'

Personally, I do think Microsoft are being somewhat short sighted: all it takes it one killer app to hook everyone on board and if, in the meantime, you happen to shift a cool 4 million units to people happy to play along with the waiting game, then you're still quids in.
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
PSVR has sold over 4 million units... and the growth has been exponential... "PSVR 2", or whatever they call the VR that ships alongside the PS5 will almost certainly ship more...

As I said before though, he isn't actually stating that the new XBOX won't have VR - it just won't be a "focus". My guess, personally, is that he's saying this so that when sales of the MSVR (or XBOXVR?) are lower than the PSVR, he can claim "well, we didn't really focus on that" as a good excuse...
 

Puiu

TS Evangelist
But not as a percentage of the userbase - with over 100 million PS4 units sold, Microsoft could well be thinking 'why bother developing something for just 4% of our users?'

Personally, I do think Microsoft are being somewhat short sighted: all it takes it one killer app to hook everyone on board and if, in the meantime, you happen to shift a cool 4 million units to people happy to play along with the waiting game, then you're still quids in.
The killer app has just been announced, Half-Life: Alyx
 
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Jules Mark II

TS Rookie
All it takes for VR to take shape is a couple of good eroge titles from Japan. That place is know for huge eroge game audiences.

Who knows, even Project natal milo can appear on PSVR2.
 

neeyik

TS Evangelist
Staff member
The killer app has just been announced, Half-Life: Alyx
I was thinking the very same thing, but more along the lines that Valve are just testing the water with HL: Alyx. If it sells well and is generously received by fans, I reckon Valve will do a full HL3 but VR only.
 

Puiu

TS Evangelist
I was thinking the very same thing, but more along the lines that Valve are just testing the water with HL: Alyx. If it sells well and is generously received by fans, I reckon Valve will do a full HL3 but VR only.
I actually believe that if this is successful that Valve will do a ton more HL games (like you said testing the waters), but HL3 won't be VR only (if they dare to make it).
 
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loki1944

TS Maniac
Sounds about right, VR is still niche relative to 2D and it doesn't have much to impress with to date. My Oculus Rift ended up shoved in a box after I saw the "progress" VR had made since My DK2.
 

m4a4

TS Evangelist
Yeah, as someone who has a few versions of VR hardware for work, it's still too niche to focus on. I'd say this is a good call (as long as it's not entirely unaccounted for).

Heck, I've played it probably an hour the past few months, with a few hours here and there before then. Put a lot more time in the beginning, but it's not a way of playing games that is convenient to get into (and play for long).
Excellent for short arcade games though, and for demoing to first time VR-ers.