About a year ago, video game manufacturers had the luxury of asking themselves whether they believed in virtual reality or not. If they did, it was a good time to start making plans for a future that included VR. If they didn’t, then there was really no cause for concern as the technology was still pretty niche anyway.
That luxury no longer exists. Personal opinions may vary, but it’s clear from a business standpoint that VR is here to stay for the foreseeable future. As such, anyone who doesn’t have their VR plans outlines suddenly appear to be very far back in the race.
Whether or not Microsoft believed in VR a year ago is up for debate. To be honest, they seemed more interested in their own Hololens technology than they did in any headset. The latest Windows event has made it abundantly clear that the company has VR business aspirations now, however. Their $299 VR headset reveal wasn’t just an announcement that Microsoft was entering the VR arena; it was a loud battle cry of war.
Microsoft’s silence regarding the Xbox’s VR future is somehow even more deafening.
As of today, we do not know if Microsoft has any intentions of bringing their recently unveiled VR headsets to the Xbox One. They certainly haven’t given any indication that will be the case. On the matter of Xbox VR, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer stated in March of this year that the Microsoft and the Xbox would only pursue VR if “we thought we had something unique to add.” At the time, he was commenting on how the market was a bit too crowded.
It was a reply that made a lot more sense when Microsoft was supporting the Hololens concept and loosely hitching their wagon to the Oculus Rift. Now that Microsoft have unveiled their own aggressively priced line of VR headsets, however, Spencer’s stance regarding the Xbox’s VR future suddenly looks a lot less definitive.
If indeed Microsoft feels that they have something to add to the VR race, then the question then becomes “Why is it that they are so hesitant to confirm Xbox VR support?” It’s an issue of mixed messages. They can’t announce that they’ve partnered with several companies to produce VR headsets one moment and then maintain that they have nothing unique to add to the world of video game VR devices the next.
Should Microsoft continue to keep their virtual reality headset line and the Xbox separate, they are telling their partners and gamers everywhere that they are interested in the idea of VR, but perhaps not that confident that it will sell on the console market. For a company that’s about to debut a new breed of gaming console meant to compete with high-end PCs, that certainly seems like a conflict of interests. Why is it that these headsets are good enough for PC users, but not console fans?
Whether it was always their intention or not, Microsoft is now in the VR game. If they’re serious about winning this game as they appear to be, then there is no way they can continue to withhold VR from the millions of Xbox gamers everywhere.