Xbox certainly put on quite the show this past month at X019 in London. Obsidian's new game, Grounded was revealed, as were a host of other titles for Xbox Game Pass, like multiple Final Fantasy and Yakuza titles. Among all this, Xbox head Phil Spencer discussed VR.
Speaking to Stevivor at X019, Spencer said he "has some issues" with VR. "It's isolating and I think of games as a communal, kind of together experience," he said. "We're responding to what customers are asking for and... no one's asking for VR."
Spencer went on to add that there are other places people would go to for a VR experience, like PC, and that "nobody's selling millions and millions" of VR units. He's not exactly wrong: earlier this year in May 2019, PlayStation had shipped a total of 4.2 million VR units, a low figure considering that the PlayStation 4 had shipped over 96.8 million units worldwide at the time.
Two video game industry analysts, Mat Piscatella and Daniel Ahmad, weighed in on Spencer's comments, and VR in general, in the tweets below.
The data suggest that Phil Spencer is spot on with his assessment of VR gaming. Perhaps someday this market can develop, but it's been years and the overwhelming majority of games consumers just don't care. Rounding error of rounding error for games spending, tiny niche.— Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) November 26, 2019
But ultimately high end VR is still something very niche, as evidenced by this Steam survey, and there are still many barriers to entry.— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) November 26, 2019
Solving price, usability, quality and content barriers will open up VR to more players. A tough challenge. https://t.co/uxa5CxZ0Dw
The raw data suggests that Spencer is correct in his belief that people would look elsewhere for a high-end VR experience. There's the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive at the higher end of the quality spectrum, with the PSVR and Oculus Quest acting as slightly cheaper models for the not-so-hardcore audience.
Raw data also supports Spencer's comments about no one asking for VR. Taking the sales units of PSVR and PlayStation 4 as of May 2019, just 4.4% of players that own a PS4 have purchased Sony's VR unit. Additionally, Ars Technica points out that even at the height of Microsoft's push for Kinect during the Xbox 360 generation, there was an attachment rate of 31.5%.
We know that Project Scarlett won't have VR at the forefront when it releases around Holiday 2020, but we know precious little else about Microsoft's next console. Head over to our Project Scarlett guide for a complete recap of everything we know so far.