Xbox VR Games Won’t Happen Until Install Base Is Larger

Microsoft doesn’t see Xbox VR games as something worth pursuing just yet, a senior company executive has revealed. Xbox head Phil Spencer last said he hasn’t given up on Xbox VR back in early 2020, but the gaming giant hasn’t made any concrete moves in this nascent industry since then.

When could Xbox VR games become a reality?

That’s not likely to change in the foreseeable future, according to Xbox Game Studios chief Matt Booty. In a recent interview with Hollywood Reporter, Booty confirmed that while Xbox continues to monitor the virtual reality space, its current approach to the medium — or lack thereof — will remain unchanged until VR entertainment demonstrates mainstream potential.

In terms of actual numbers, the executive highlighted how Xbox has so far put out ten games with ten million lifetime players each. “That’s the kind of scale that we need,” Booty explained, adding that both VR and AR games currently lack the potential to reach such figures. His comments dovetail with years’ worth of statements from Xbox officials suggesting VR gaming isn’t a “worthwhile” pursuit for the company.

And while Xbox VR games hence don’t seem likely to happen anytime soon, there might be more to Microsoft’s reluctance to invest in this industry beyond its overall lack of an audience. After all, the company has been quite bullish on Xbox Cloud Gaming since launching a preview version of its service almost four years ago. Yet cloud gaming itself is still a pretty small niche that Booty himself acknowledged can barely be called a “market” right now.

Elaborating on the size of Xbox Cloud Gaming, Booty said that the platform currently has some 150 million active monthly players across its first-party games. But unlike VR and AR, cloud gaming services mainly require infrastructural investments, which is something that Microsoft has already committed to while growing its Azure business. Meanwhile, the actual content that draws people to cloud offerings is already interchangeable with traditional gaming platforms and thus doesn’t necessitate additional expenditures.

That’s not to say Microsoft is completely uninterested in financing projects reliant on its cloud gaming technology. In fact, Hideo Kojima’s unannounced Xbox game already promised to deliver one such unique experience “leveraging the cloud.” But while Xbox Cloud Gaming’s growth prospects don’t hinge on such projects, VR would very much require significant content investments on Microsoft’s part.

It’s hence not surprising that Xbox isn’t too keen on pursuing VR just yet. After all, its last massive gaming technology experiment has yet to pay off.

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