No VR for Xbox until it goes beyond being experiences and demos

3 min read


I’m a big fan of virtual reality. For a long time, I wasn’t. I was, like many of you, a sceptic. Now, I absolutely believe that good VR is a gamechanger. But even so, I have to admit that most of what you can do with VR can quite rightly be labelled as experiences or Demos.

And, despite Microsoft’ recent charge in to VR, it won’t be coming to Xbox until it goes beyond being that – until developers really have their heads wrapped around how to make good VR games.

“I don’t know, just to be honest,” Microsoft’s Phil Spencer told Stevivor.“I love the technology behind VR. I have a Vive, I have an Oculus. I’ve used the PlayStation device a lot in demos and stuff. I don’t think the creators in the game space have yet found – well, they haven’t obviously perfected the craft of building VR games,” he said. “It’s so early, I think we’re a couple of years before we’ll really see that hit mainstream.”

Most of the good stuff is an experience, over being a game.

“I’ve seen great video uses of VR, like taking you to places you can never time travel, just the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or they simulate the surface of Mars, some really cool experiences users can see.”

But he absolutely believes that it’ll find its place in games – and when it does, Xbox will be there.

“I think VR will find its spot in gaming; I would make that bet,” he continued. “We designed Scorpio as a VR-capable console. Whether that happens this year, next year or the year after… like I said, I still think the creative community has to get its arms around what are these new tools, and this new feeling — this new immersion. What experiences do you put in people’s hands to have a long term engagement? Most of these things I’m playing now feel like demos and experiments, which I actually think it’s absolutely the right thing to have happened. That’s not a criticism at all, but should be happening. But I think it will take time.”

And for it to really work, it needs to ditch the wires.

“If I think about the technology I would say the idea… that I’m going to put on a head-mounted display and have a wire hanging out the back of my head that connects to some box in a room [is wrong]. It’s gotta go away. Most non-core gaming people are not going to do that. Whether people are going to put something on their head, I think is actually a legitimate question. They’re definitely not going to walk around in a shielded environment with a cord at scale. That’s absolutely where VR has to be today.”

Last Updated: November 1, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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