Xbox head Phil Spencer made waves in December with comments that seemed dismissive of VR, suggesting it was too niche and that customers simply aren’t asking for it. In a new interview, he struck a softer tone, clarifying that his team simply isn’t focused on VR right now.
“I probably overstated,” Spencer said on the podcast Gamertag Radio. “For the people who love VR and the experiences that are being built, no disrespect to any of the teams there. My main point was I wanted to be clear with our customers on where our focus was. If somebody was waiting for us to bring out a headset for Series X at launch, I was just trying to say, we’re not going to do that.”
He went on to explain that bringing VR to a console platform is “not as simple as just plugging a headset in,” since the specialized console UI means it has to be custom-fitted for a VR interface. Right now, he said, “Our most precious resource is the team and their ability, I just have to focus on the things we’re doing right now.”
Spencer also explained that VR is closely associated with Windows, and so the company is still keeping a close eye on the movement of the industry and progress towards VR adoption.
“We’re never going to close our eyes to where things are going,” he said. “I don’t hope it goes away. I hope it gets bigger, I hope it’s something that’s just so important that it’d be a no brainer for us to support it. My main point wasn’t to shade anyone who’s working on VR or anything but really just about the stuff we’re focused on and that’s not part of the equation right now.”
Microsoft has seemed hesitant about embracing VR on its console platforms. The company initially said the Xbox One X was “VR-ready,” but VR support never materialized. It also continues to experiment with the AR device Hololens, but hasn’t indicated if or when it would be used for gaming applications.
Right now the Spencer seems to be focusing his efforts on the Xbox Series X, which may be closely tied to its cloud gaming services. That prompted him to say recently that he sees its chief competition as Amazon and Google, rather than traditional console competitors Sony and Nintendo.
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