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Microsoft reiterates need for cordless VR, long-term support of tech

Spencer: “I’m long-term bullish on VR”

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Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer
Phil Spencer

In the weeks leading up to E3, Polygon chatted with most of the key players in virtual reality about the current state of the technology.

Microsoft warned us at the time that VR wasn’t going to play a role in its big pre-E3 press conference and that the company wouldn’t be discussing VR on the Xbox One X. Instead, the company said, they were focusing on VR for the PC and working toward a console VR future that would be wireless.

Xbox head Phil Spencer reiterated that view during his time on Giant Bomb’s E3 stream last night saying that he remains “long-term bullish” on the technology.

“Long term, I'm a big believer in the category,” he said. “I think it's incredibly immersive ... My view is that in the family room environment, we’re probably a few years away from it being able to really work. I think the cords are an issue. That said, the manufacturers that are out there, it’s great that as an industry we are investing. This is what the game industry should be about, is investing in new technology.”

Spencer said that the Xbox One X has the power to drive VR and MR experiences but that they’re “struggling a little bit” with the family room environment issues.

“We’re saying let’s stay more on the PC where we are seeing action and developer interest until we really get the art form of what it means to create great MR experiences,” he said. “And then it can go to more places. I do think we need to lose the cords at some point. “

He also mentioned that since the technology is so relatively new in terms of this latest run at mainstream, consumer success, there has been a lot of group discussions about best practices with the likes of Sony, HTC and Oculus.

“I don’t think this is the time to be competitive in this space,” he said. “It’s a time for us to share our learning because the market is years away.”

Spencer also talked about what he called an “over exuberance in VR” that happened a couple of years ago, that he believes put more interest in VR then “maybe the tech and experiences could deliver.”

The key, he said, isn’t to think that VR is here right now or that it has failed, but to temper your take on VR with the rise of the tech and its search for solutions to issues like the cords used with many VR headsets.

“It is going to happen,” he said. “Everybody has to be VR, VR, VR, and then a couple of people get their hands burned and everyone runs away. I think we have to moderate the temperature a bit around where we are and not tell people this is the year of VR.

“Then when it doesn’t happen you get failure of VR, but it’s neither one of those things.”

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