Back in November, the head of Xbox Phil Spencer made headlines when he confirmed that the next-gen Xbox console won’t support VR at launch. Many Xbox fans were waiting for Microsoft to bring VR experiences to Xbox consoles, especially after the software launched its own VR platform on Windows 10 with the Mixed Reality portal.
“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,” Spencer said in a previous interview. The “nobody” part in this statement seemed a bit exaggerated, to say the least, but Spencer got the chance to clarify during the latest episode of GamerTag Radio.
If Spencer once again made it clear that the Xbox division is now laser-focused on the launch of the upcoming Xbox Series X, he also explained that bringing VR support on Xbox would actually require a lot of work.
"VR is not just as simple as plugging your headset” into the console, Spencer said. “You have to redo the dash, like there’s a bunch of work that goes into it.” While Valve, Sony, and Facebook’s Oculus division have done that work and “know the completeness and what it means to support that platform,” Spencer said he doesn’t see the feature as “so important” that it’s a “no-brainer for us to support it” — yet. But he says he hopes demand for VR hardware will increase.
In the end, Spencer and the Xbox team are probably right to continue to ignore VR for now. The Windows Mixed Reality portal on Windows 10 didn't exactly set the world on fire, and it's hard to imagine VR support being a killer feature for Xbox Series X. Even with a 100+ million PlayStation 4 install base, Sony announced last month at CES that PSVR sales had crossed 5 million units, which isn't exactly a massive success.
"We have to focus our efforts on the things that we’re doing right now,” Spencer said during the podcast. As Xbox Series X will go head to head with Sony's PlayStation 5 this holiday season, the conversation should soon shift to raw specs and other important details such loading times and ray-tracing support.