I’m sure Microsoft has some pretty smart guys making decisions for the company, so maybe I’m off base when I suggest that it should seriously consider adding virtual reality to its platforms. As of now, Microsoft has shown no indication that it wants to do anything like that. From where I stand, though, I really wish it’d reconsider. It seems like a good idea that would benefit VR, gamers and the company. This is especially true when compared to the Kinect.
For starters, VR has hit its stride and, through experimentation, developers have found a good groove in which to create games; they understand what works. We’ve seen fantastic titles like Tetris Effect and Beat Saber. Somewhat recently, they’ve found success in horror titles and have benefited from adding optional VR to games like Resident Evil 7. Even in its earlier days, they discovered that some people just like to relax and toss food stuffs out a door in titles like Job Simulator. There are a wealth of experiences to be had that are unique to the platform.
Beyond that, Microsoft could help normalize VR. The more customers see VR options, the more likely they are to partake. It would lend a degree of social proof to the concept. It would also make virtual reality more accessible because, in this hypothetical future, people would be able to pair it with the console of their choice.
I’m also a fan of multiplatform games, and I imagine this is true for both developers and gamers. When developers have a larger audience, instead of a divided one caused by exclusives, they stand to make more off of their efforts. This means virtual reality would be further incentivized.
Of course, exclusives would also be an option. Right now, the PlayStation 4 is the go-to place for console virtual reality, because it doesn’t have any competition, the headset is affordable, and you don't have to worry about whether a headset will work with any PC like someone might with a computer and its headset options. Currently, Microsoft seems to have an eagerness to buy up studios and is positioning itself to create a massive amount of first party titles next generation. At the very least, that is the image it has created. Why ignore a segment of gaming in terms of exclusivity? As far as what gamers stand to gain from this, the answer should be obvious: we would be treated to better VR games as competition, allegedly, inspires better products. In gaming, are there any fiercer rivals than Microsoft and Sony?
We’re also moving into the next generation. As much as I love the PlayStation VR and appreciate its instant compatibility, I have to admit that it is inferior to the PC options. It’s a trade-off for affordability and easy of use. One can safely assume that the next generation of consoles will be more powerful than this one. As a result, Microsoft supporting VR would help close the gap between PCs and consoles.
I understand that there are some hurdles for Microsoft to jump through. Unlike Sony, it doesn’t really have any motion-sensing technology. I mean, it had the wonky Kinect, but Sony has the Move controllers and sensors in the standard DualShock 4. Microsoft would need to come out with something like this, which might be difficult for the company. Like I said, I’m sure it has analysts working on it.
In an ideal world, we would receive virtual reality for the Xbox One. In that world, virtual reality as a whole would become more popular and better. But Microsoft doesn’t seem like much of a risk-taking company anymore and seemingly prefers to rely on old, established, safe IPs. Let’s hope that its new studios help change its mind a bit about innovation and Sony’s use of VR can demonstrate the potential of the medium. Otherwise, I guess I’ll just look forward to Halo 12 or something.