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Articles - February 12, 2019

VR Not in Xbox’s Future According to VP’s Comments

Sony PSVR might have gotten a boost from an unexpected place on Monday, January 21, 2019.

That’s because Microsoft’s VP for Xbox, Mike Ybarra, made comments that hint that virtual reality isn’t a priority for the system now or in the near future.

This would largely cede the console VR space to Sony’s PlayStation VR which has experienced strong sales in the past several months particularly.

The pessimistic statement that has many people speculating came in response to a question from former Gears of War developer Cliff Bleszinski who asked Ybarra if VR had any “killer apps” according to Daily Star.

To this, Ybarra replied, “No…Google Earth is cool but not even close to what is needed to make the tech worthwhile. Sigh.”

Some have speculated that this could just be an attempt by a rival to poo-poo Sony’s success in VR while others see it as an honest statement of opinion.

Though fans of VR aren’t really fooled by Ybarra’s statement – nor its flippant nature.

To classify Google Earth as VR’s one killer app right now is not only contrary to critical opinions but also market results as well.

Of course, last year Sony’s Vice President of Marketing Mary Yee revealed that PSVR had sold a whopping 3 million units, making it the most successful console add-on in history.

“We are excited to reveal today that Sony Interactive Entertainment has officially sold-through more than three million PlayStation VR systems worldwide, along with 21.9 million PS VR games and experiences…We’d like to thank all our fans for the amazing support, and we’re thrilled that so many of our gamers have experienced the magic of VR and stepped into the captivating worlds that electrify our senses.”

Readers with long memories will recall that Microsoft had, at one point, seemed rather enthusiastic about VR for the Xbox.

But a planned add-on unit was allegedly shelved last year according to Daily Star. This isn’t the first time this rumor has been bandied about. One of the primary concerns that the Redmond outfit has with VR is its alleged affordability – or lack thereof.

VR units have come down considerably in price even since PSVR’s launch in October 2016 but they are still perceived as premium devices.

Where Microsoft has focused a lot of its attention as a company is on augmented reality. Debuting its Hololens to a lot of press buzz, Microsoft might be honing in on AR as its way of distinguishing itself in a crowded marketplace.

And that would make a lot of sense for one major reason: The killer app that is Minecraft.

Buying Mojang’s iconic Minecraft was one of Microsoft’s biggest corporate gambles and it has paid huge dividends for the company. Boasting a fan base that spans nearly all age groups, Minecraft has a presence on almost every format known. In fact, it was used to show off the Hololens and what it could do.

Minecraft with Hololens would be pretty neat but so would a fully realized Minecraft VR experience. We’ll just have to wait and see what Microsoft has planned for its future in VR – if any.

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