Head of Xbox Phil Spencer recently expressed that "nobody is asking for VR" when the topic came up in an interview. I really feel that this statement might have been made a bit early in the game, as VR seems to be picking up steam as we head into the new year. The fact of the matter is that Xbox will miss out if VR does hit its stride, given Spencer's sentiment, so it is high time that Microsoft arrange its priorities accordingly and launch its own VR operation.
VR isn't new to gaming. It's been around for quite a while now, and it's been a few years since major companies started releasing their own VR equipment, such as Sony's PSVR. Simply put — although VR hasn't hit its stride yet, it still very well could, and Microsoft would be foolish to miss out on the opportunity due to a miscalculation.
VR may not be where everything is at now, but once technology improves and headsets become and it will be more affordable, then there may be a real shift in the game industry. The concept is there, but it has to be implemented in an economically practical way, and once more consumers start latching on, VR might be the new standard. As such, Xbox ought to develop a plan for their own VR system going forward.
The very option for a VR device on PlayStation 4 is one of its appeals and one factor that has led to Sony's out-performance of Microsoft this generation. If Microsoft had created a VR headset for the Xbox One, that could have leveled the playing field. Now, if the company wants to develop the technology for the next Xbox it'll have nothing to build on, whereas Sony has already learned from PSVR.
If VR is truly out of the question for Microsoft, then they ought to look to other, more practical options for methods of gaining a wider audience. And perhaps AR is the way to do it. While not quite as impressive as VR, it accomplishes the objective of creating the illusion of another setting, albeit minus the existence of another environment altogether but with projected virtual objects in the real world.
Yet, AR does stand out among the peripherals and options Microsoft could choose from going forward. It doesn't engage in the same manner as VR, but one could imagine a Halo AR title in which enemies appear on Android phones and the player must shoot at them with the touch screen. Or, perhaps Kinect uses its camera function and an additional AR ability to have players fight off enemies in a beat 'em up game. There are multiple concepts up for grabs; Microsoft just has to pick one.
While VR hasn't caught on in the way many thought it would, there is still a good possibility. With the launch of the upcoming Xbox Series X, there may be no better time to develop a VR device than now, leading to its eventual release at the beginning of the Series X's lifecycle. It could be what pushes consumers in its direction in the next generation.