Microsoft’s Penello: We Didn’t Want To Distract Developers with VR This Year; We Learned from Kinect

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Oct 7
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VR gaming is quite divisive at this point in time. While there are developers like Turtle Rock and CCP who are already eager to experiment as much as possible, other big companies such as Take-Two are more lukewarm towards this new market, with CEO Strauss Zelnick still not convinced it will be “powerful technology for entertainment”.

Microsoft is sitting somewhere in the middle. The first Windows Mixed Reality headsets are coming out soon and there’ll be a Halo experience to try out.

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That said, they haven’t really pushed to use the technology in their core games on Xbox One or Windows 10 PC. Speaking with Wired as part of a larger interview on the Xbox One X, Albert Penello (Senior Director of Product Management and Planning at Microsoft) said:

There’s still a tonne of experimentation in VR. That’s not designed to be a backhanded statement. There are obviously consumer products. Moving the problem into the display of your goggles versus the limits of the TV was a result of some of the 3D TV challenges. But VR has so much potential. Is it a viable consumer product? For a certain size of audience.

We learned with Kinect and the Wii that just translating a typical game experience to VR is not a winning strategy. It’s the oddball VR-specific stuff that makes it sing. It wasn’t something we wanted to distract developers with this year.

It certainly sounds like Microsoft has plans to invest more in VR gaming in the future, then. It’s just that the timing is currently not right, between the launch of a new console (the Xbox One X, coming out on November 7th for $499) and the fact that developers are still coming to terms with designing games specifically for Virtual Reality.

We do know that the Xbox One X supports VR, though, so it’s only a matter of time before it happens. It’s better to wait and get it right rather than produce half-baked content like with Kinect, anyway.

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