Australian publication Stevivor recently sat down with Xbox head Phil Spencer to broach the subject of whether or not the company’s upcoming next-gen console would be matching Sony’s continued VR ambitions with PlayStation 5. The short of it: Spencer says it’s simply not a focus for Scarlett.

“I have some issues with VR — it’s isolating and I think of games as a communal, kind of together experience,” Spencer told Stevivor at X019.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.”

Firing back at Spencer’s assertion that “nobody’s asking for VR,” Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida maintained Sony is still working hard despite the lack of wide-spread support:

Later, Spencer took to Twitter to reaffirm his views, saying that while he has played VR games in the past, including Valve’s upcoming Half-Life: Alyx, it’s still not going to be a focus for Scarlett:

Project Scarlett’s big reveal at E3 2019 included no mention of VR support despite it’s fundamentally a VR-ready system, which is based on Zen 2 and Navi processors from AMD, and hailed as “four times more powerful than the Xbox One X.”

It’s not to say we weren’t holdouts for a surprise announcement though, as Microsoft has under their Microsoft Studios umbrella a surprising amount of talent with previous experience in making VR games including Ninja Theory (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice), 343 Industries (Halo Recruit), inXile (The Mage’s Tale), Double Fine (Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin), and Mojang (Minecraft).

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If there’s a silver lining in all of this, at least Xbox is staying consistent with their messaging from the get-go with Scarlett, as the company had been kicking the metaphorical ‘VR can’ down the road ever since they originally announced their intentions back at E3 2016 to bring “high fidelity VR” to Xbox One X. It wasn’t until June of last year that Spencer dashed all hopes of bringing VR to Xbox One consoles.

And in the end, it’s likely Xbox is focused on more than just bringing a more powerful console to the table, as the company continues its push to acquire first and second-party studios and game titles, improve Xbox Game Pass, and further develop xCloud, the company’s cloud-based game streaming service. Further splitting its attention by adding VR in at this late stage could simply be too much to ask, as Scarlett wouldn’t be able to benefit in the same way PS5 will when it launches with backwards compatibility for first-gen PSVR headsets.

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  • Super GenieTale

    Get off of your horse Phil ….. Unless you’re alergic to profits

    • care package

      That’s just it, they don’t see profit in it. Neither does CD Project Red apparently. Well, neither do most AAA game publishers. I quit VR for this reason because I wanted VR options with AAA games. Got tired of all the short attention span Indie/AA games that are all built AROUND motion controls.

  • Moe Curley

    This is strictly damage control. VR ready graphics parts are expensive. They didn’t want to invest in VR yet so he’s trying to spin it that Xbox buyers don’t want it as early as he can so he can control the narrative.

  • LOL, nobody is asking for VR eh? Well, I’m asking. I sure wish the upcoming MS Flight Sim 2020 was able to support VR for example.

  • Xron

    Well, they failed hard, microsoft and the crew hmd lineup (except samsung).
    Now they are scared to invest more…
    Ofcourse they failed because of crappy tracking system, but vips won’t admit their own faults and now yell inside Microsoft corridors that Vr isn’t ready yet, they tried their best, but the buyers aren’t there…
    We know its a bs but Heads of Microsoft seems to listen to these dudes.

    • sfmike

      Corporate heads are proud of how out of touch they are with consumers as their only concern is investors and share holders.

    • Ellie 187

      the thing is they could easily integrate VR into xbox using windows mixed reality platform… the hardware exists, writing the software to interface to the xbox is trivial…. the content/games already exist.. seems so short sighted of Microsoft.

      but I’ve been a PC gamer for decades, so whatever consoles do never affect me and I always laugh at consoles inferior tech and watch console gamers get so excited about next gen when PC gamers have been enjoying that ‘nextgen’ graphics for years.

    • care package

      He said nothing about whether VR is ‘ready’ yet. Just implied the demand isn’t there yet.

  • XLM

    I don’t know if this turns out to be a smart decision for Xbox, but the answer he gave was just stupid. You don’t want to declare to the world that you intend to be a mediocre company that passively “respond to what your customers ask for” — especially for a tech company, following success stories like Apple, Netflix, ….

    • I agree completely. It may have sense that XBOX waits for VR to have a bigger market before implementing it, but the sentence he said was stupid

  • Immersive Computing

    Surely it’s just an x86 box with powerful GPU running a variant of Windows? so very easy to make “VR Ready” with WMR support – Samsung Odyssey + or similar.

    • Mike Porter

      more like an AMD CPU and AMD or Nvidia GPU running a variant of Windows and the same with Sony but running a variant of Linux instead.

      • Immersive Computing

        Yes so an x86 box (i.e. PC)

        • Mike Porter

          Pretty much, yeah, older consoles used PowerPC CPUs or custome ones (PS3’s Cell CPU) but for a while they have use standard x86-64 ones.
          But the difficulty with adding VR support is not much about what GPU or CPU is used and more about money and time spent developing and manufacturing the headset which could be spent elsewhere.

          Good thing is developing a headset for a console not initially made for one is not impossible, as is the case with PCs.

  • MrGreen72

    They’re just incompetent in the field. They’ll eventually play catch-up like they do with just about everything else.

    • Hivemind9000

      They tried and failed to play catchup in the mobile OS market. Sony already have a head start with VR titles and after the next generation they may be unstoppable. Time will tell, but I’m not waiting another 5+ years for console VR goodness.

  • Hivemind9000

    FWIW as a long time XBox purchaser/player I’m switching to Sony PS5 when it’s released. I support innovation and risk over corporate navel gazing. Most XBox exclusives eventually end up on PC anyways…

  • Brian Brown

    I can’t help but think that there is more here than meets the eye. It’s risky for the company to be so adamant about VR when Scarlett is still around a year away. Doesn’t make sense to cement in peoples minds what a console won’t do this far from release.

    Personally I’m 100% in the PC VR ecosystem, so it really won’t affect me, but it seems like these comments are a little reckless.

    • Hivemind9000

      Agree. Not even “leaving the door open”. Seems like a big F.U. to VR gaming.

    • sfmike

      Could be he’s just a 3D and VR hater and believes that the public doesn’t want to have to wear anything that might muss their hair or make them look un-cool like a VR headset or 3D glasses. Lots of haters out there.

      • Mike Porter

        That doesn’t make him a “hater”, just someone with different preferences

        • care package

          Ya anyone who doesn’t agree is a hater now.

  • FDA

    Guys in the comments. They are absolutely in the right to not need to purse VR. Roll back those tears and use them for something else. The fact is that hardly ANY AAA company makes AAA games for VR is a sign that the return investment is extremely risky and very very small. The VR ecosystem units in millions is dwarfed by the amount of consoles. Almost 100:1. To anybody doing financial projections, that’s a huge cut out of what they could possibly make. VR is for enthusiasts not regular consumers.

    • Dan Lokemoen

      Triple-A schmiple-A. Sony is making a killing off PSVR with whatever games they’ve got and MS is closing the door on a pile of dollars. I don’t care because I’m not going to buy another console, anyway, but it’s a dumb business move.

      • Mike Porter

        “Triple-A schmiple-A” is not an argument. Much more pile of dollars can be made by spending less pile of dollars on buying few AAA exclusives rather than invensting money in VR research, development and production.

    • Cragheart

      in the mid 2000s smartphones/PDAs weren’t for regular customers too, it all changed in 5 years

  • David N

    No possibility for VR = no buy for me. I expect my consoles to last 5 years and to me it would be stupid to put my hard earned dollars into a system that won’t embrace future tech developments in that coming time span. VR is expected, and will doubtless, to grow exponentially over the next 5 years. This announcement is actually much appreciated, I’ve always bought XBOX until this last gen when I bought both a XBOX One X and a PS4 Pro. This makes the decision easy for me: I will just get a PS5 and wait for MS to wake up to reality (or virtual reality in this case).

  • Michael Hill

    Microsoft confirms I will be buying a PS5

  • sfmike

    Typical corporate thinking. Someone on the board has it in for VR and the money boys don’t see a billion dollar revenue stream in the near future so don’t spend money on a niche product. Microsoft is great at always following and playing catchup rather than innovating. Look how they half heartedly, and that’s being kind, got into the windows mixed reality market. Throw a couple products out there, don’t support them and only let users try them at a Microsoft store and wonder why customers aren’t beating a path to buy a mixed reality headset. The business folks see the past projections of the millions that VR was supposed to be brining in by now by the investment con-men gurus and just go with the safe bet. Lose money in more than one quarter and you are looking for another job. That’s the magic of capitalism. They are simply treating VR the way the industry treated 3D TV. Lots of hype and projections of huge growth which doesn’t develop when it become apparent that there is no marketing plan, support or major content (and what was there was overpriced and hard to find) and then wonder why something isn’t selling. Corporate America deserves to collapse as they now let Asia and Europe do the innovating.

  • 2Na

    Honestly?

    I’d rather Microflaccid and Apple stuck to making vaporware AR talking points for the press and kept their grubby mitts off VR. The only thing they could do is muddy the waters, make counter-productive, tone-deaf decisions, and generally tarnish it with all the cheesy gusto they do everything else they touch.
    Meanwhile, Sony will continue to slap them soundly round the haunches with successful PSVR evolutions. My trio of nephews are between 11 and 15 and would stab you if you touched their PSVR without asking first, and they are thirsty for a new generation offering.

  • Mike Porter

    I’m going to play the devil’s advocate and say that he has a point. “Nobody” asks for VR is just false but likely very true that the number of people just isn’t high enough for them to consider doing the RnD and production. You all are pretty emotional and staw-maning the man with your comments, instead think about it rationally: there is a very small user base for VR currently, this is a fact, not up for debate, you guys being a vocal minority won’t change their mind.

  • 144Hz

    They won’t do anything until Apple does it and there’s a steady stream of income.

  • Doon1

    The biggest obstacle to VR being mainstream is the initial cost of buying a machine to properly drive an HMD. Sony’s going to eat Xbox’s lunch with an all-in-one offering.
    Gotta go now as I’m in the middle of retiring my Windows phone because of MS’s lack of product support…

  • JesuSaveSouls

    I never thought nintendo would step up before xbox with innovations in vr.

  • Mike Porter

    Sony’s response wasn’t professional either and was petty. Phil was making a hyperbole when he said “nobody” which is the same thing when you say “I’ve heard of X a million times”. Yoshida either doesn’t know what a hyperbole is or is just mocking Phil, either way that’s not professional or nice.

    And actually if we want to be 100% honest , yes, oftentimes companies like Sony work on products that “nobody” asked for and which fail miserably. It’s a risk companies are willing to take sometimes with their products because the reward if it will become sucessful is very big and failure is something they can live with. But if other companies aren’t willing to take that risk that’s also perfectly fine and mocking them on Twitter is just pathetic.

    Here are some things Sony has made over the years that nobody had asked for and which have failed miserably:

    1) Sony Playstation Move
    2) The OG boomerang controller for PS3, Sixaxis with its inaccurate motion controls
    3) Sony’s memory stick and UMD
    4) The PSP Go
    5) Going further back, let’s have a moment of silence for Sony’s Betamax.

    I could go on.

    • care package

      Also Sony’s mini disc. I was so close to buying into it just because I loved how they were covered and smaller, but glad I didn’t obviously.

  • brandon9271

    They could rebrand a WMR headset as XBox VR in no time at all if the demand was there. They should at least take a “wait and see” approach. Saying out right “no” is bad PR in my opinion.

    • Mike Porter

      Actually they can make a VR headset after their console is out. The console doesn’t need VR support hardcoded in it, they are almost like PCs in that regard.

  • MosBen

    The argument about VR being isolating is annoying because it is both true, but also not in the way he means. Spencer contrasts VR’s isolation with some kind of community experience for other games, which is presumably the next Xbox’s focus. But the reality is that every single-player video game is just as isolating as VR. My wife and mother-in-law aren’t going to sit around and watch me play Red Dead. And moreover, couch co-op is an extreme rarity. If I’m playing video games with my friends, it’s over the internet, and an flat screen video game has no advantage in the capacity for social interaction over VR.

    VR does need more games that push social interaction, both locally and through the internet. But the way that that happens is a company like MS investing in it and pushing developers to make the VR games that MS thinks the industry needs, while also allowing other developers to publish their own VR ideas on the platform.

    In the current console generation there was a decent argument that the original entries XB1 and PS4 weren’t really powerful enough for VR. Yes, PSVR has done some good things. I’m just saying that compared to PCs, those two machines aren’t capable of really pushing the same amount of detailed graphics at high refresh rates to high resolution screens. But that justification simply won’t exist for the next console generation, which will have the horsepower to render really nice quality VR experiences. The other potential issue is ergonomics, but that’s again something that MS is in a good position to work out if it developed a VR product for their next console. The final issue is the need for space to play in and the need for a wire tether. I get why the latter might be a concern, but I don’t think that it’s nearly as big of a deal as MS seems to think. As for the room needed for room scale VR, that’s a tough one, but if you create games/experiences worth playing, people will be willing to pull a coffee table out of the way.

  • Ellie 187

    its a console.. why would you want VR on a lackluster console with inferior tech.

    i’ll stick to my 1080ti and valve index.

    • gothicvillas

      You really think next gen consoles are not going to beat 1080?

  • Trenix

    All Microsoft has, is a monopoly on their operating system for PCs. Outside of that, they’re nothing. It’s only a matter of time before a new operating system gets created that is faster and better and easily accessible, supporting all products. Linux, a free open-source operating system, is already faster than Windows. Unless Windows does something fast, they’re going to be wiped out by other competitors soon enough.

    Xbox One was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made. They did away with the Kinect, had barely any exclusives, and it ran far worse than the PS4. Would not buy another Xbox regardless of the broken promises they make.

    • Immersive Computing

      Microsoft is massive and growing with group revenue of $33.7 billion in Q4 2019 alone.

      Productivity and business process = $11 billion, Intelligent Cloud = $11.4 billion, More personal computing = $11.3 billion

      180 million monthly active Office 365 business users on top of 35 million consumer subscribers of Office 365 = $$$

      Gaming is a small part of a much larger empire, it actually declined by 10% whilst other units increased revenue

      • Trenix

        Microsoft had a decline in revenue within 2016 and 2017 from 2015. Our world is evolving, more countries are beginning to get their hands on computers. Not only that, but the population is growing. You can therefore see why they will continue to gain revenue even after a decline, when the majority of the population uses Windows for their PC operating system. The sad part is that more people have android as their operating system then Windows. It’s only a matter of time before Google finishes off what’s let with Windows. They took over searches, they’re dominating in smartphones, they took over browsers, they’re now even have Chrome OS.

        I’m not happy about this by the way, I don’t like Google. However Windows is going to fail soon enough. Just wait till a competitor reaches the market. I’m assuming you don’t know how markets work, you just like to throw around statistics. Microsoft has been unchallenged for way too long.

    • Mike Porter

      “All Microsoft has, is a monopoly on their operating system for PCs. Outside of that, they’re nothing.”

      Kind of like facebook, with facebook.

    • care package

      “Unless Windows does something fast, they’re going to be wiped out by other competitors soon enough.”
      lol by what competitors? Even when the anti-MS movement was at it’s height, Linux still never too hold. Apple has been trying for years and still doesn’t come close. MS’s real control/bread and butter is in business. They OWN the business/server OS’s, where MAC, Chromebook and Linux can’t compete.

      • Trenix

        Linux is free open source operating system, it’s never going to compete with a full blown company. Apple is overpriced over-marketed trash. Watch out of google’s operating system. Also what evidence do you have that they own business/servers? Many businesses even use Linux to run their servers.

        • care package

          Apple OS is far from trash, but overpriced ya, and that’s only from my experience as desktop support. As far as evidence just google MS server OS share. Ya lots of certain types of servers use linux like apache, but the majority of all your main servers use an MS server OS, especially if it’s a windows domain environment, which most are. That OS can play many roles as well and it all works together. Apple, linux, nor google have comparable solution for enterprise. They’re all great for personal use though. MS isht going away any time soon. Don’t get your hopes up.

    • Ardra Diva

      You have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • callen

    Imagine if Microsoft had visionaries at their company, instead of bean counters in suits. We could be in a world where every Xbox included a Kinect that gave you controller-free full-body VR tracking. They would have won this console generation, with the proper investment in software. Instead, they’re forfeiting the next gen a year before it starts.

  • Shem

    I’ll wait until I see the spec for the new psvr before I make the decision which next gen console to get. If I’m not impressed I’ll stick with xbox.
    This is the first time the xboss has disappointed me. Let’s hope MS changes their mind before scarlett launches.

  • Ardra Diva

    Well, that’s disappointing for sure.