Amid mounting pressure from Sony with the recent launch of its PSVR 2 headset for PlayStation 5, Microsoft again affirmed that it’s still waiting for the technology to mature before offering any sort of dedicated VR software or hardware for Xbox.
Xbox’s lack of VR strategy has been a long ongoing story, reaching back to when the company first announced at E3 2016 that its Xbox One X console would “lead the industry into a future in which true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR are the standard, not an exception.”
As a show of big brand cohesion (pre-Bethesda acquisition), the company announced Fallout 4 VR was supposed to come to the system, however a month later Xbox leadership began waffling about VR support on Xbox One X, which effectively led to the company putting an indefinite kibosh on all things console VR.
And that’s not changed, even in the face of PSVR 2 outperforming the original PSVR in sales in the first six weeks, taking a strong early lead over Sony’s first-gen PlayStation headset introduced in 2016.
Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter late last week, Xbox Game Studio head Matt Booty says VR just isn’t there yet for Xbox.
“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 said. “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.”
In the end, it may actually come down to Xbox’s lagging install base relative to PlayStation. Xbox has reportedly sold over 18 million Xbox Series X/S consoles since launch in November 2020. Sony says it’s sold over 38 million PlayStation 5 consoles since launch, which notably released only two days after Xbox Series X.
Meanwhile, the standalone headset market is moving along at a clip that would suggest the audience is already there, or may be there soon. Meta says it’s sold over 20 million Quest headsets to date as it prepares to launch its $500 follow-up, Quest 3. Only a few days after Quest 3’s June 1st unveiling, Apple announced its $3,500 Vision Pro headset, which if anything, will spur others to take XR more seriously.
Granted, PSVR 2 installs only account for a fraction of that 38 million figure, but if Xbox is hoping to wait for VR games to reach console-level unit sales, it may be handing over yet more revenue to its direct competitor for a while longer.