Despite Sony, Apple, and Meta’s enthusiasm for VR, Microsoft is keeping out of it until there’s a large enough audience.
Out of the big three console manufactures, Sony seems to be the only who’s going all in on VR gaming, having already launched two VR headsets for its PlayStation consoles.
Nintendo only dabbled with the idea, via Nintendo Labo, and despite recent patents, Microsoft has similarly shown little interest in launching a VR competitor against Sony and Meta’s Quest headsets.
It turns out Microsoft has a very simple reason for this: it doesn’t think there’s enough of an audience to justify making its own headset.
Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, was recently asked for his thoughts on the recent trend of VR, as well as AR gaming.
Unlike cloud gaming, which is a big part of Microsoft’s future, Booty suggests Microsoft is happy to wait a while to see if the VR and AR audiences expand.
He even seems to imply that any VR/AR project would need to reach an audience of at least 10 million to warrant Microsoft entering the business.
‘I think for us, it’s just a bit of wait until there’s an audience there. We’re very fortunate that we have got these big IPs that have turned into ongoing franchises with big communities,’ Booty tells The Hollywood Reporter.
‘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.’
Interestingly, Booty admits that cloud gaming remains a very small market. So much so he hesitates to actually call it a market. Although downplaying the importance of cloud gaming is exactly what you’d expect Microsoft to do, given it’s the main area of concern for Activision Blizzard monopoly investigators.
‘So for us, it’s something that we consider almost more experimental that we’re trying out to see how it works,’ he says. ‘I think there’s still a lot of economic issues to work out in terms of the cost as well.
‘It’s something that we feel we need to be up on being involved with the technology. We have some great partners that we’re giving our content to, but for me, it comes back to the content and focusing on things that have scale.’
To be fair, any hesitation Microsoft may have for chasing the VR trend is warranted. While Sony says its pleased with the PlayStation VR2’s performance and Meta has a third Quest headset coming in September, there are signs both companies are struggling a bit in their respective VR departments.
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