In an interview with Stevivor during X019 Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, made it clear that Xbox doesn’t want in with VR.
“I have some issues with VR — it’s isolating and I think of games as a communal, kind of together experience,” Spencer said. “We’re responding to what our customers are asking for and… nobody’s asking for VR. 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.”
Xbox’s main competitor in the video game scene has already invested into VR in a big bad way with PlayStation VR. For good or for bad Xbox doesn’t see value in following them down that path. Spencer stated to Stevivor that when it comes down to it, “nobody’s selling millions and millions” of VR headsets. PSVR is the top selling VR headset on the market right now at 4.7 million units from launch through September 2019. But even that is just under 5% of the established base of PlayStation 4 owners. Not a very compelling case to invest in VR if you’re looking for an immediate return.
Next console generation
Xbox is working in secret prepping their next console for launch in 2020. Project Scarlett is being presented as a super powered console unlike anything they’ve done before. It’s a different tune from the launch of the Xbox One. They missed the mark in 2013 by not focusing enough on the games players wanted. This time they are staying laser focused on getting that right.
PlayStation has stated their continued commitment to PSVR in the next generation. The current headset will be compatible with PlayStation 5. And there are rumors of a next generation headset being released. If VR takes off in a big bad way then PlayStation is ready. However Xbox will end up playing catch up.
Xbox is gambling that VR will not make major traction in the market anytime soon. And if Spencer is correct that “nobody’s asking for VR” then they’re making the right choice. But future proofing your brand is never a bad thing. First they have established Project Scarlett as a desirable gaming brand. Then they can start making those paths to ensure they stay relevant and don’t get left in PSVR’s dust.
Hot Take is a live-streamed show where two of our hosts jump in-front of a camera to discuss the latest gaming news and trends. These videos are personal opinions and not intended to be news reports.