June 21, 2018 // 11:30 a.m.
Microsoft has officially stepped back from plans to add virtual, augmented, or mixed reality (VR, AR, or MR) support to its Xbox One console family, claiming that 'the PC is probably the best platform' for such endeavours.
Following the breakout success of Oculus VR, whose Rift headset effectively launched the current resurgence of interest in virtual reality technology, Microsoft has been putting its support behind the technology via the launch of the Windows Mixed Reality platform. As well as its first-party HoloLens augmented reality headset, the company has partnered with third-parties to produce low-cost virtual reality headsets compatible with Windows Mixed Reality - and had long been suggesting that it would be adding support for the platform to its Xbox One console platform, in much the same way as rival Sony launched PlayStation VR (PSVR) for its PlayStation 4 (PS4). The company's mid-stream console refresh, the Xbox One X, was described by Xbox head Phil Spencer as 'built specifically to lead the console industry into true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR,' while later confirming to CNET that the console will support virtual and mixed reality.
Now, though, hopes that Xbox One owners may get to play around with VR, AR, or MR have been dashed. Following an interview at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) last week between Microsoft chief marketing officer for gaming Mike Nichols and GamesIndustry.biz, in which he claimed that 'we don't have any plans specific to Xbox consoles in virtual reality or mixed reality [and] our perspective on it has been and continues to be that the PC is probably the best platform for more immersive VR and MR,' Microsoft has released an official statement confirming that it won't be following Sony's footsteps.
'Because of the opportunity with Windows Mixed Reality, and because we believe the user experience will be best on PC right now, that is where our focus is,' an unnamed Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to CNET late yesterday, in the first official acknowledgement of Nichols' comments. 'We have nothing to share about MR for console at this time.'
Sony's PlayStation VR has been a resounding success for the company, with market analysts' estimates and Sony's own rough sales figures suggesting its commands a leading share of the overall VR market.