Following Microsoft‘s E3 2017 press conference, many were surprised that it didn’t take time out of the event to present any new virtual reality component for compatibility with the Xbox One. According to Phil Spencer, the head of the tech firm’s Xbox division, one reason why the company didn’t devote a portion of its showcase to such hardware is because it’s currently more focused on virtual reality for Windows PC than Xbox.
When speaking about the issue with IGN, Spencer stated that the reason Microsoft is setting its sights on virtual reality for PC first is due to more developers wanting to create VR content for Windows on PC more so than on Xbox One. Simply put, the Xbox head said, “Where we’re really seeing developer interest is on the Windows platform.”
To further explain why Microsoft has virtual reality for PC in its crosshairs right now instead of Xbox One, Spencer said that the technology in its current state isn’t totally compatible with the dynamics of a modern family room. Spencer said, “We’re just finding that that family room experience . . . you’ve got your TV across the room and there’s cables hanging out across the room,” and added that the company’s research has found “it’s better in a desk environment.”
Spencer went on to assuage Xbox fans that his and Microsoft’s goals are to fulfill the desire “to respond to what the gamers are asking us to do,” and with interest from developers looking to Windows as a VR platform, PC will be where the company puts its focus on VR “right now,” intimating that if the fans begin showing more interest to VR on Xbox One, it would come to pass. This syncs up with statements Spencer made earlier this year regarding virtual reality, as he said, Microsoft’s taking a “more open and inclusive approach to VR” with its Windows platform by inviting VR game developers not encumbered by an exclusivity agreement to work on Windows, while still allowing them to distribute their game elsewhere.
All things considered, though, it looks as if Microsoft won’t be jumping into the VR field with Xbox One just yet, at least until the living room experience can be fleshed out thoroughly and properly. Spencer said, “As a company, we’re big believers in mixed reality. But if and when it comes to the family room environment, I want to make sure it’s right. I don’t want to get into something that doesn’t really feel like it’s landing well for us, and I haven’t really seen a kind of massive uptake to other things going on in VR in the family room.” Perhaps once the Xbox One X drops later this year and potentially establishes itself firmly in the marketplace, it can be Microsoft’s flagship VR console sometime down the line.
Microsoft is currently focusing its work in VR on PC instead of Xbox.