“I don’t believe VR is a fad,” said newly head of Xbox Phil Spencer on Twitter last night. His comments come after Ed Fries, the co-founder of the original Xbox said he was “skeptical of Oculus Rift’s mass appeal.”
Is this a tease of a pending announcement for Microsoft? Or, is Spencer acknowledging the popularity surrounding Oculus Rift?
Microsoft is working on an unspecified virtual reality project according to Spencer. He talked a bit about VR during GDC saying, “I think the technology’s really interesting, and it’s definitely something we’ve been playing with for quite a while.”
Rumors of a Microsoft VR project have been around for a while. A leaked document back in 2010 indicated Microsoft would introduce a VR/AR system for the Xbox One called “Fortazela.”
Virtual reality isn’t some new technology. It’s been around for a while, but no company has ever seen success with it. That changed when Oculus unveiled their VR headset. It quickly became a darling on Kickstarter and then by investors. Oculus became a global name when Facebook purchased the company last week for $2 billion.
Spencer doesn’t think VR is a fad. Indications are Microsoft is busy developing their own type of VR/AR product. Fries believes VR can see success among hardcore gamers, but is skeptical about its widespread appeal.
“Hardcore gamers love new technologies and experiences and are willing to do almost anything to get them, so that’s a good market for Oculus,” Fries said in an Ask Me Anything session on Yabbly.
“General users however are a different crowd. Given how little success the consumer electronics companies have had with 3D TVs with glasses, I am sceptical that general users are going to be strapping this thing onto their face any time soon.”
VR does have an uphill climb ahead of it. But, you can’t argue with the positive reaction surrounding Oculus’ VR headset. Nearly everyone who uses it has a ‘holy $@*#’ moment. The applications beyond gaming are extensive. After all, that’s why Facebook bought Oculus in the first place. Launch for gaming first and then rapidly expand.
Microsoft and Sony would be smart to quickly get into the VR field. Sony unveiled its own VR headset, Project Morpheus, at GDC. We’ll see if Microsoft follows suit at E3.