VR fans are all familiar with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, but a new report says there was almost one more major contender on the table—a now-cancelled piece of technology designed by Microsoft.
As CNET uncovered, Microsoft originally intended to launch a VR headset, something that would presumably parallel the PS VR and plug in to Xbox consoles. While little is known about this headset’s design, it seems that Microsoft had plans to release up until the company started quietly withdrawing plans earlier this year.
It seems that Microsoft has three major reasons for pulling back the headset’s development. First, there was nothing “unique” enough about it to make it stand out from other headsets on the market.
“I don’t think the unique add is to plug into the Xbox One console,” Phil Spencer said, speaking on the issue back in 2016 (via CNET). “That’s not the magic unlock to me.”
Secondly, the technology just wasn’t there. According to sources that spoke to CNET, Microsoft always wanted its headset to be wireless, making it something easier to set up and play with than the current consoles, which must be wired in to computers or a PlayStation to work (without adding a costly wireless adapter, that is). It may take another few years for VR technology to reach the point Microsoft envisions for its console.
Finally, there’s the most important question: Do Xbox gamers even want a Virtual Reality headset? According to analysts, it’s not something that most gamers have been asking for. While the creators of most VR headsets haven’t released hard sales numbers, it’s apparent VR hasn’t fully taken off among mainstream gamers. Sony recently announced the PSVR has passed 3 million sold—but compare that to the more than 82 million PlayStation 4 consoles the company has moved. Owning a VR headset is still a novelty, not a must-have. A lack of interest in an Xbox Virtual Reality headset could make any attempts to develop one doomed from the start.
While Microsoft isn’t making anything for this generation, the company has definitely put feelers out. It’s quite possible that we could still see a VR headset from the company. It just might not be for several more years.