In brief: While virtual reality headsets still haven’t taken off, the PlayStation 4’s PSVR remains quite popular. With its big rival going down this route, why hasn’t Microsoft released a VR device for the Xbox One consoles? According to a new report, it was developing such a product but put the plans on hold until the technology improves.
Back in June, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer of gaming, Mike Nichols, revealed that the company had abandoned plans to release any virtual or mixed reality headsets for its Xbox One consoles.
Microsoft’s stance on VR for the Xbox One had been unclear. Before it was unveiled last year—back when it was still known as Project Scorpio—Xbox boss Phil Spencer had lauded the Xbox One X's virtual reality capabilities, leading many to suspect that it would support the Oculus Rift. But since the console was first shown off at E3, Microsoft had been quiet about VR coming to the 4K-capable machine, until Nichols killed off the idea.
But according to CNET, which cites people familiar with the matter, Microsoft did plan to release an Xbox VR headset. It seems the company was quite far into development; Microsoft was already talking to game devs about making VR titles for the product.
While we don’t know the specific of the device, the screen and its visuals were reportedly “good” but unable to match the likes of the Rift and HTC Vive, which makes it sound similar to the PSVR—not exactly the “high-fidelity VR” the Xbox One X promised.
Ultimately, Microsoft reportedly wants to wait until VR technology becomes more advanced and cheaper before bringing it to the Xbox line. Lighter, more powerful headsets are finally becoming a reality, and a wireless adapter for the HTC Vive launches next month, but these all remain prohibitively expensive. It’s also likely that developers showed little interest in developing games for Microsoft’s device, given their limited popularity on other VR platforms.