Xbox Is Turning Its Back on Virtual Reality

Microsoft is done with virtual reality on the Xbox.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz this week, Microsoft's chief marketing officer Mike Nichols said that the company doesn't "have any plans specific to Xbox consoles in virtual reality and mixed reality." He went on to say that the PC and not the Xbox is the "best platform" for the virtual experiences.

Instead of headsets, Nichols said, Microsoft is focusing on "experiences you would play on your TV" with its Xbox. The news isn't too shocking to those who have been watching Microsoft's slow movement on virtual reality over the last few years. 

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In 2016, the company seemed to be planning a heavy investment in virtual reality and said it would wanted to bring VR experiences to the console. It would achieve that, the company hinted, by supporting virtual reality headsets on the Xbox.

Now years later, Microsoft has slowed its pace. And at E3 2017, Microsoft's Phil Spencer said that the prospect of virtual reality coming to the Xbox wasn't something that would happen soon.

Still, virtual reality is a differentiation point for its chief competitor, the PlayStation 4. That console supports Sony's own PlayStation VR headset, which has been generally well-received among gamers.

But every gaming company is still trying to determine how virtual reality fits in the broader scheme. The technology is, after all, facing stiff competition from augmented reality, which Apple and others believe has a future in gaming. Microsoft itself is working with partners on so-called mixed reality headsets, which are basically just VR headsets for PCs.

Nichols' comments don't necessarily close the door on Microsoft changing course at some point in the future. But it doesn't look good for VR.