Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Walks Back Controversial Comments About “No One Asking” For VR On Xbox Scarlett

Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Walks Back Controversial Comments About “No One Asking” For VR On Xbox Scarlett
Credit: Microsoft

Xbox head Phil Spencer was forced to walk back a recent statement he made about the future of virtual reality platforms on Xbox.

The Microsoft executive recently made some waves in the gaming world when he was asked about the potential for virtual reality on Xbox’s new console, currently codenamed Project Scarlett. It was a fair question, given the extreme popularity of rival Sony’s PlayStation VR, which is the best-selling VR headset on the market today.

However, Spencer wasn’t having it on this day, stating that VR was not on the company’s radar for Project Scarlett, mostly due to the cost of the service. He also noted that customers can find that experience elsewhere.

“I have some issues with VR,” Spencer said. “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.”

He went on to state that “nobody’s selling millions and millions” of VR headsets, despite the fact that Sony has moved its install base up to 4.2 million users for PlayStation VR.

The comment prompted a response from Sony executive Shuhei Yoshida, who clapped back at Spencer last week.

When a Twitter user fired off at Spencer’s dismissal of VR as a popular gaming alternative, the Microsoft boss was forced to respond and clarify his statement.

“I don’t think the issue is Xbox focusing on building up (their) games line up,” a Twitter user going by Parris said. “It was the way VR was dismissed as a novelty not worth pursuing when it’s clear that there is a huge AAA investment by Valve/Sony/Oculus.”

Spencer appeared to take that critique of his words in stride and responded with a tweet of his own.

“Fair feedback,” he said. “I’ve said publically, I love how our industry has pioneered: AI, physics, 3D, RT, VR/AR etc. For us, it’s about focus on our innovations right now. I’ve played some great VR games, I got to play HL:Alyx in the summer, amazing. It’s just not our focus with Scarlett.”

It’s clear that Sony will remain unchallenged by its chief competitor in the realm of VR, which is likely a relief to many over at Sony. However, it should be noted that in the original pitch for the Xbox One X, there was some talk about delivering “high fidelity VR.” It’s not clear what happened to those initial ideas, but it seems as though any Microsoft VR experience is going to have to wait for another day and another console.