Xbox's Phil Spencer: 'Nobody's asking for VR'

In an interview during X019, Phil Spencer shared his qualms about VR in general and his doubts about its future on Xbox consoles.

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VR has always been a sketchy sell. Though the technology opens up a world of new possibilities when it comes to games and plenty of other applications, it’s hard to make the argument that it’s anywhere near practical yet. On one side, you’ve got Valve hedging their bets on a full-length Half-Life game in VR. On the other side, seems to be folks like Xbox’s Phil Spencer, who believes the audience interest just isn’t there when it comes to the future of Xbox and VR.

Phil Spencer made his opinions known on the matter of VR in an interview on Stevivor, posted on November 26, 2019. Back at the major Xbox event, X019, Stevivor had a chance to ask about Spencer’s full thoughts on the possibilities of VR and whether or not it will be a part of the Project Scarlett and the new generation of Xbox consoles. Spencer had more than a little bit to share about his thoughts on VR, claiming that while he respects the tech, it doesn’t coincide with Xbox gaming.

“I have some issues with VR,” Spencer explained. “It’s isolating and I think of games as a communal, kind of together experience.”

Xbox's next console generation will be focusing on a lot of new technology to do never before seen things on console, but it would appear VR isn't part of the plan.
Xbox's next console generation promises to do never before seen things on console with a lot of new technology, but it would appear VR isn't part of the plan.

Phil Spencer went on to say that while VR is an interesting technology and could be a part of Xbox’s future, it’s definitely not in the cards for the console anytime soon.

“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. I think we might get there [eventually], but yeah, that’s not where our focus is.”

Spencer may be right about one thing. There just may not be enough interest for the Xbox in particular to go in on VR support. It does, however, fall in contrast to a lot of various moves in the technology though. Not only have PlayStation and Nintendo worked to bring various versions of VR to their respective consoles, but Valve’s efforts to build the new Half-Life: Alyx from the ground up in VR mark a major turn of a fan-favorite franchise towards VR development.

It still remains to be seen if VR can become more practical when it comes to the gaming space, but one thing is for sure. It looks like we won’t be hooking up a VR headset to an Xbox in the foreseeable future.

News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he's not handing out beatdowns in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his partner, he's searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people inside and outside the South Texas area. You can also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 26, 2019 9:50 AM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, Xbox's Phil Spencer: 'Nobody's asking for VR'

    • reply
      November 26, 2019 10:17 AM

      This is the first thing I’ve heard from him that is real lame.

      • reply
        November 26, 2019 10:21 AM

        Well I mean the non clickbait-y quote he says immediately after seems pretty true: "“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. I think we might get there [eventually], but yeah, that’s not where our focus is.”"

        Pretty smart business decision, IMO.

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          November 26, 2019 10:43 AM

          That's considerably different than just "nobody's asking for it", yeah.

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        November 26, 2019 11:00 AM

        I read it simply that, while VR isn’t going anywhere, that they recognize it is still at enthusiast levels right now.

        I mean I’m all in for VR but the realistic truth still is the cost of entry vs quality of experience, set up, and graphic fidelity is high.

        PSVR provides a great entry point but it still has compromises. I do legit think vr and/or AR are going to get there, but it’s going to take time.

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      November 26, 2019 10:56 AM

      Not only have PlayStation and Nintendo worked to bring various versions of VR to their respective consoles

      Labo VR is not a serious delve into VR on the Switch. It’s a novelty at best and a cardboard dust collector at worst. Sony has made strides into bringing a VR experience into the living room, Nintendo made some mini games.

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      November 26, 2019 11:24 AM

      I bet Kinect scared off MS from VR.

      Strangely, Kinect would have been amazing for VR implementation.

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        November 26, 2019 2:05 PM

        Better than a playstation eye, that's for sure.

        Using a couple of kinects on the periphery of your VR play space could make for some fun full-skeleton tracking. Assuming you were going for a dedicated space, anyway.

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        November 26, 2019 2:08 PM

        Except it has too much latency for vr. It can be useful for animating your avatar for others to see but I bet it would fail to be convincing proprioception in first person.

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          November 26, 2019 2:09 PM

          When people say this I don't think they mean as it shipped years ago; they mean new revisions of that tech aimed at VR.

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            November 26, 2019 2:11 PM

            And other working tech shows that style of sensing can be fast enough to track well, like Leap's project north star demos:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m6J8W6Ib4w&feature=emb_title

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              November 26, 2019 2:29 PM

              Looks good there but let’s see how far behind it gets in beat saber expert+. Valve and oculus has to revise their tracking to allow for the faster movement that beat saber users were doing.

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                November 26, 2019 3:23 PM

                It's entirely possible to do, though you may well end up with having skeleton resolving detail constrained by movement speed - you don't need to track individual fingers when swinging a saber around at 120bpm.

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      November 26, 2019 11:37 AM

      Is he why they walked back WMR headset support?

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        November 26, 2019 3:19 PM

        That’s the annoying thing. They HAVE an in-house VR platform.

        But that probably also means they could quickly add support for existing headsets. I don’t know if that idea (third party peripherals) would fly in console land though.

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      November 26, 2019 1:48 PM

      I've played the first 2 Ace combat missions, it's amazing!

    • rms legacy 10 years mercury mega
      reply
      November 26, 2019 1:52 PM

      Beat Saber studio acquired by Facebook

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      November 26, 2019 3:24 PM

      Until they’re ready to announce something they’re not going to announce something. I bet the explored it, but they want to be razor focused on their objective with the next console. They don’t want to add a bunch of peripherals and repeat Xbox one’s awful launch.

      Once the console is stable, VR will be far more advanced and they’ll announce something. I’m sure the console is designed with it in mind.

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        November 26, 2019 3:26 PM

        To be fair MS does do the Windows MR standard that a bunch of headsets are designed for.

        If Xbox ever does get VR, it's quite likely they won't make their own headset at all but just be compatible with the current stuff on the market.

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