While there's a lot of buzz around the PS5 right now, the rumour mill has been very quiet on Xbox's rival, the mysterious Project Scarlett. While PS5 details have leaked, leaked and leaked again, there's been very little details as to what the Xbox team are up to. However, we know what they're not up to, thanks to an interview with a top Microsoft exec.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer, executive vice-president of gaming at Microsoft, has made it very clear in an interview with games site Stevivor that VR is not a priority for the next-gen console.
It's true that nobody immediately associates Xbox with VR, but Spencer's argument goes beyond the technology that's debuted on the console before, as he claims there's no real market for the technology. While PlayStation's PSVR may be the best-selling VR unit around, Spencer claims "nobody's shifting millions and millions" of the headset, arguing that's because there's no market for it.
“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.
“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.”
It's interesting to know that VR won't be a focus for Xbox in next-generation gaming either. The idea of gaming as a shareable experience rather than an "isolated" one is a common criticism of VR, but rival console PlayStation certainly doens't feel the same way. Sony exec Shuhei Yoshida spotted the comments and tweeted his response:
（´-`）.｡oO（we oftentimes work hard to make things that no customers are asking for them）26 November 2019
It's true if games companies only produced what customers were asking for, than we'd never get any innovation. However, while VR hasn't quite taken off in the way Sony, Oculus, Valve and other VR producers first envisioned, there's plenty of support for the technology: most recently, a new, high-profile instalment of Half-Life, titled Half-Life: Alyx, has been announced for VR.
Even Spencer ended the interview with the caveat that Xbox "might get there eventually", so there's hope for VR on the console yet. But at the moment, it seems Xbox is going back to what it does best – creating a first-rate games console – before worrying about the bells and whistles such as VR.
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