Since adopting a console-friendly VR headset back in 2016, PSVR has seen a vast array of well-received virtual reality titles make their way to the platform. Since the launch of the headset, legions of Microsoft fans have wondered when or if Xbox would make the same leap, especially with the company’s focus on hardware such as HoloLens. As it turns out, Microsoft has a very hard stance on the future of VR on Xbox, and unfortunately for those holding out hope, it’s not an optimistic one.
Speaking to Stevivor, head of Xbox Phil Spencer claimed that the Xbox Scarlett will not be integrating VR, stating “We're responding to what our customers are asking for and... nobody's asking for VR.” He went on to reiterate that, as Stevivor put it, players “don’t associate Xbox with VR, nor do they expect it from the brand.”
While it’s easy to take Spencer’s hard stance on the inclusion of VR as a major disappointment, his rejection of the concept does come with some interesting viewpoints on the direction of VR and why it doesn’t align with Xbox’s future. Questioned about his decision, Spencer explained: “it’s isolating and I think of games as a communal, kind of together experience.” He went on to clarify, “The vast majority of our customers know if they want a VR experience, there are places to go get those. We see the volumes of those on PC and other places.”
Spencer’s comments do make sense when you consider the brand that Xbox is trying to create. From Sea Of Thieves, to the likes of Halo, Gears Of War, and Forza, all of Microsoft’s major exclusives have large communal elements and a multiplayer focus. It’s clear the console’s signature brand identity is about players coming together and enjoying games as a community, while Sony often tends to market many of its big-budget exclusives to a single-player audience. VR definitely fits the latter more than the former.
However, that’s not say it will never happen. At the end of the interview, Spencer does give a brief glimpse of hope to VR fans waiting for the feature to hit consoles, stating “I think we might get there [eventually].” It seems likely that if VR truly breaks into the mainstream, Microsoft will consider implementing it into the Xbox Scarlett’s line-up. With so many great virtual reality experiences coming out, it's not hard to believe that VR could make its mark sooner rather than later, but until then, Microsoft intends to have no part in it.
Xbox Scarlett is in development now for an unspecified release date.
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