Microsoft has completely pulled back on plans to support virtual reality headsets on the Xbox. In an interview with Gamesindustry.biz, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer of gaming Mike Nichols said that “we don’t have any plans specific to Xbox consoles in virtual reality or mixed reality.” Nichols goes on to say that the PC is “probably the best platform” for virtual and mixed reality, and that for the Xbox, “our focus is primarily on experiences you would play on your TV.”
This basically completes the slow decay of Microsoft’s console VR plans, at least for now. In 2016, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that the upcoming Project Scorpio console would support “high-end VR” like that available on Windows PCs. Since Microsoft had previously partnered with Oculus to support Xbox controllers on the Oculus Rift, there was widespread speculation that Scorpio might work with the Rift as well.
This never happened, but later that year, Microsoft announced an entire line of VR headsets — and a few months after that, it said that mixed reality content would be coming to Xbox devices in 2018. However, at last year’s E3, Spencer was substantially less enthusiastic. He told Road to VR that although he was “long-term bullish” on VR, it wasn’t ready to come to Xbox yet, and the market was “years away.” Now, Nichols is barely even expressing interest in the platform.
Spencer described an “over-exuberance” in Microsoft’s early VR plans, and the market has definitely grown more slowly than many imagined. However, Microsoft’s competitor Sony has done reasonably well with its PlayStation VR headset, and Microsoft has gone forward with several PC VR headsets alongside partners like Samsung and Acer. Microsoft is still trying to shore up the Xbox One’s shaky position, though, in part because it overemphasized selling the Kinect motion controller early on. It’s not surprising to see the company’s Xbox VR plans slip away — especially since it’s largely focusing on business uses for its mixed reality headsets.