Microsoft’s Xbox One X won’t support virtual reality, reports WSJ (update)

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The Xbox One X won’t support VR, a marketing executive says.


Josh Miller/CNET

Update, June 13 at 1:44p.m. PT: Xbox boss Phil Spencer tells CNET that the Xbox One X will still support VR and that the company’s commitment hasn’t changed, which appears to refute the Wall Street Journal’s report.  

The Xbox One X, Microsoft‘s new gaming console, reportedly won’t include support for virtual reality, one of today’s hottest emerging technologies, despite the company’s earlier implication it would.

The new console was revealed by Microsoft at its E3 2017 conference on Sunday. Formerly known as Project Scorpio, the Xbox One X promises better graphics for players, whether or not they have a 4K television. What it won’t do is deliver virtual reality, which promises to transport goggle-wearing users to a computer-generated 3D environment, be it outer space or the Stone Age.

Microsoft’s reasoning behind the decision is that VR is better suited for the PC than gaming consoles.

“The opportunity on PC is larger, because the install base is larger and we think the customer experience will be better on PC,” Xbox marketing chief Mike Nichols told the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

The decision to skip VR support is surprising, considering that Microsoft left consumers with the impression a year ago that the new console would support virtual reality. Although the company didn’t specify which VR headset would work with the new Xbox in June 2016, it did name-drop the VR version of Fallout 4 as a game that would specifically be coming to the device.

The new console is one of the most important product releases from the Xbox team in years. The Xbox One, while highly regarded by many, is estimated to have undersold the Sony PlayStation 4, its biggest competitor, nearly two to one.

In an interview with CNET prior to the Wall Street Journal’s report, Microsoft CVP of Xbox and Windows gaming Mike Ybarra wouldn’t answer direct, yes-or-no questions about whether the new Xbox would still support virtual reality.    

A Microsoft spokesperson also wouldn’t confirm or deny the WSJ report, providing the following statement instead:

Microsoft is committed to delivering great mixed reality gaming experiences.  We believe that right now a Windows PC is the best platform for mixed reality as its open ecosystem and enormous installed base offer the best opportunity for developers, and Windows offers the most choices for consumers. Therefore, our primary focus is making our Windows Mixed Reality experiences a success.  We have games from Microsoft Studios in development for Windows Mixed Reality, and several game developers are working closely with us to bring their titles to Windows Mixed Reality.  We’ll have more to share on specific games and content experiences coming to Windows Mixed Reality later this summer, after E3.  Because of the opportunity with Windows Mixed Reality, and because we believe the user experience will be best on PC right now, that is where our focus is.  We have nothing to share about MR for console at this time.

For more on E3 2017, check out complete coverage on CNET and GameSpot.  

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