Xbox won’t invest in VR until ‘there’s an audience there’

Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty has expressed hesitance about investing in VR.
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Despite industry trends, Microsoft has so far remained resistant to the idea of investing in an Xbox VR device – and now, Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty has spoken more about the reasons why. Per a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Microsoft is waiting ‘until there’s an audience there’ as it doesn’t believe a proprietary VR device will be popular enough to warrant the cost of development.

‘We’re very fortunate that we have got these big IPs that have turned into ongoing franchises with big communities,’ Booty told THR. ‘We have 10 games that have achieved over 10 million players life-to-date, which is a pretty big accomplishment, but that’s the kind of scale that we need to see success for the game and it’s just, it’s not quite there yet with AR, VR.’

For now, the company will remain focussed on developing new games for the Xbox Series X and Series S, and on fostering a larger community that may then be able to support a future VR device, should the technology maintain popularity.

Read: A PSVR2 review from a motion sickness sufferer

Xbox VR has never been a focus for Microsoft

Microsoft’s nearest rival, Sony, has already launched two generations of PlayStation VR – although it’s fair to say both devices are considered non-essential. The PlayStation VR2 reportedly sold 600,000 units in its first six weeks on sale – a strong performance, but one that will likely dissuade Microsoft from investment in the near future, given its ’10 million’ strong community aspirations.

With many rivals currently established in the market, including via popular devices like the Meta Quest 2, it would be difficult for a new competitor to make a splash. More to the point, Microsoft has previously stated that Xbox users aren’t particularly interested in VR games.

‘The vast majority of our customers know if they want a VR experience, there’s places to go get those,’ Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, told Stevivor in 2019. ‘We see the volumes of those on PC and other places.’

‘I have some issues with VR – it’s isolating and I think of games as a communal, kind of together experience. We’re responding to what our customers are asking for and… nobody’s asking for VR.’

While Spencer admitted Microsoft might ‘get there’, he also claimed it wasn’t a focus for the company. Several years later, it appears Microsoft is sticking to this stance, closely monitoring its competitors in the market, but staying cautious about a potential Xbox VR release.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.