Now that its life cycle is ending, it’s difficult to look at the trajectory of the Xbox One and not draw parallels between it and the Wii U. Both were the subject of controversy long before they even launched, both lacked consistent first-party releases, and both forced their respective companies to rethink their strategies moving forward. Microsoft is certainly hoping the Xbox Series X will be as big of a success as the Switch, but avoiding pointless controversies is key, and that’s why Xbox boss Phil Spencer is walking back some of his comments about VR last year.
When Spencer was asked by Stevivor in an interview last fall about the potential for VR on Project Scarlett (this was before the Xbox Series X name was announced), he said that “nobody’s asking for VR,” and that while virtual reality may eventually come to Xbox in some form, it isn’t the team’s focus right now.
For whatever reason, that quote upset some people, and that’s the last thing Spencer wants right now.
“I probably overstated,” Spencer said on a recent episode of 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.”
Taking the struggles of the Xbox One into consideration, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that VR is pretty far down on the list of priorities for the team ahead of the Xbox Series X launch this fall. With the Switch continuing to break sales records and Sony looking to build upon the overwhelming lead it established over the past seven years with the PS5 this fall, Microsoft needs to convince gamers to join the Xbox ecosystem, not build a VR headset.
“We’re never going to close our eyes to where things are going,” he added. “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.”
Spencer has never closed the door on VR entirely, and he doubled down on that in his latest interview. As he explains above, he wants VR to become so popular that team Xbox has no choice but to support the technology, but until that’s the case (which is definitively isn’t at the moment), VR won’t be coming to Xbox Series X.