Xbox Isn’t Sold on VR or AR: Audience “Not Quite There Yet”

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Xbox users who want to experiment with VR will need to look to the PlayStation, Meta Quest, and/or PC platforms, as Matt Booty, head of Microsoft Game Studios, has told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview that Xbox isn’t really invested in the technology at the moment. According to Booty, VR, nor AR, has a big-enough audience yet for Microsoft to care, although it looks like the same could be said for cloud gaming—something that Xbox is clearly trying to drive despite it being a “very, very small market.”

Via The Hollywood Reporter:

What are your thoughts on the expansion into AR, VR? Other studios have been really diving head-on into that, but based on the showcase that we saw, that’s feeling more on the back burner [for Xbox].

I think for us, it’s just a bit of wait until there’s an audience there. We’re very fortunate that we have got these big IPs that have turned into ongoing franchises with big communities. We have 10 games that have achieved over 10 million players life-to-date, which is a pretty big accomplishment, but that’s the kind of scale that we need to see success for the game and it’s just, it’s not quite there yet with AR, VR.

Cloud gaming is a huge advancement for Microsoft and Xbox Game Studios. Different companies have taken different approaches to cloud gaming; [Xbox is] still in beta mode, PlayStation/Sony is diving into this as well. But places like Google, for example, they shut down their cloud gaming service. Why do you feel like this is still an avenue that you want to pursue?

For us, to be clear, it is a very, very small market. I’m not even sure you would call it a market yet, in fact. It’s very small usage and very small audience.

How big is the audience?

We’ve got 150 million active players across first-party [games] every month. It’s just not even at that scale. So for us, it’s something that we consider almost more experimental that we’re trying out to see how it works. We just announced it. We’ve signed some great partnerships with NVIDIA and announced some other partnerships. So for us, it comes back to the content, which is really my focus.

My teams have done an awful lot to make sure that we support touch interface and touch first so [the games] can be played on touch-first devices. But again, that content that we’re streaming is our frontline content. We’re not building anything specific for that. I think there’s still a lot of economic issues to work out in terms of the cost as well. So in a weird way, it ties back a bit to your AR/VR question, and it’s something that we feel we need to be up on being involved with the technology. We have some great partners that we’re giving our content to, but for me, it comes back to the content and focusing on things that have scale.

Never say never, but it doesn’t sound like a cloud gaming–specific title or franchise is coming in the future.

There’s a lot of things that can be done when your game knows that there is a central server that’s running in a bigger cloud, there’s gameplay things you could explore. That’s a little bit of our job as first party is to think about what are some of those forward-looking, experimental things we could do with cloud, but to me, that has more to do with what are the kinds of games you could make if you knew you had access to a lot of computing power that was off of your computer, off a console, as opposed to just a streaming scenario. Those are things that we’re looking at, but I think it’s a broader definition of what cloud gaming can be.

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