Xbox Exec: "I Hope Sony Has Success" With PlayStation VR
"I think VR is still right at the beginning; taking that to a closed ecosystem today, I think to me is just too early."
Virtual reality is poised to be one of the biggest trends of 2016, and while Microsoft has its HoloLens VR/AR device, it is still very much early days for it and its gaming implications are still unclear. By comparison, Sony's PlayStation VR headset has already has more than 100 games in the works and the device itself is coming out in the next few months. We caught up with head of Xbox Phil Spencer recently and asked him what he had to say to Xbox One owners looking for a virtual reality experience this year.
Because the VR market is still so young, Spencer said Microsoft is taking something of a "wait and see" approach. For now, the company is betting on Windows 10 to serve as a platform through which developers can create game and then see what sticks.
"Our bet on VR right now on an open platform for innovation [like Windows 10] is the best place for something that is this early in its incubation," he told us. "You can say Minecraft will be the killer app, but nobody's bought a copy of Minecraft for VR."
Spencer said he wishes Sony success with PlayStation VR, but talked about why a "closed ecosystem" could be problematic for a technology as young as virtual reality.
"I think VR is still right at the beginning. Taking that to a closed ecosystem today, I think to me is just too early," he said. "It doesn't mean that it doesn't belong in console...I hope Sony has success with what they're trying to do because I think it's good for our industry as innovations like VR take off. But for me, and where we are with Xbox, my bet is putting the development tools in the hands of literally millions of people who can go on Windows and start building their own VR experiences is likely to lead to faster content innovation than a closed ecosystem would."
"So we're supporting Valve, we're supporting Oculus, we want to make sure Windows 10 is a great place for those developers that want to build those ideas for what might make the killer app for VR."
At E3 last summer, Microsoft announced that it was "working closely with Valve" to ensure that Windows 10 will be an ideal platform for the HTC Vive headset, which is now up for preorder. Additionally, all Oculus Rift launch units come with an Xbox One controller. This is all to say, Microsoft may not have a virtual reality device coming out soon, but the company is indeed involved in the space.
Preorders for Microsoft's HoloLens headset opened this week for developers. For $3,000, approved developers get the headset (which, unlike Rift or PlayStation VR, does not require any extra hardware) as well as a starter-pack of sorts that comes with a new Conker game and more.