They may instead be looking at just having VR modes and augmentations in existing games.
When Microsoft announced the Xbox One Scorpio, what was hidden behind all the talk of the console’s monstrous specs was the simple fact that developers would still be beholden to the existing Xbox One, which is categorically a weak machine- Microsoft disallows, apparently, any form of exclusives for the Xbox One Scorpio.
It’s a shame, but it makes sense, too- the Xbox One is less than three years old right now, and will only be four when the Scorpio launches, and it was an expensive machine too. Microsoft probably can’t afford angering all the customers who bought that machine. But when one considers the stated goals Microsoft have for the Scorpio, one begins to notice some kind of a contradiction.
Speaking to The Guardian, Xbox head Phil Spencer discussed the Scorpio, as well as how he hoped it would help Microsoft get an in on virtual reality, which is generally perceived to be an exciting new frontier of technology.
“I think the capability in the consoles that are on the market today to play high-fidelity true console-like experiences in VR … they’re just not powerful enough,” Spencer said. “To deliver the experience that console gamers expect, that’s really a six-teraflop problem at least. You kind of need to get there.”
That’s all well and good, but the contradiction should now be clear- given that, by Spencer’s own admission, the base Xbox One console is incapable of doing VR properly, and the Scorpio is necessary to play VR games. And yet, Microsoft have said there will be no Scorpio exclusives. So what does this mean? How does Microsoft plan on reconciling these two, seemingly contradictory notions?
“I will say, we’re very focused on console games and what console gamers want, and I see VR as something different,” Spencer said in response to the question. “Like, other people might try to say, ‘VR is the future of console gaming.’ I’m not saying that. I’m saying if you’re an Xbox One console gamer, we are so focused on making your experience the best experience you’ve ever had with the best lineup of games. We’re not getting distracted.”
What is the implication, then? VR exclusive modes for existing games on Scorpio, but no full VR experiences? We don’t know, but Microsoft’s Mike Ybarra had a bit more to add on the matter. “We’re focused right now on what we announced on Scorpio, but Xbox Live and VR opens a lot of doors that we’re looking into for sure,” he said. “The opportunity of VR and Xbox Live together is boundless – we’re just starting to consider what that will look like. We have teams looking at what’s coming and how we apply that.”
Given all this, it sounds more like – honestly – that Microsoft don’t actually have a VR strategy in place yet, and that they are opting to get VR capable hardware out the gate first. Apart from that, it doesn’t sound like they know for now how they plan to approach VR as far as content goes- but sooner or later, this is a question that they will need to consider more thoroughly, that’s for sure.