Why Microsoft Hasn't Released A VR Headset

Mixed Reality Headset
(Image credit: Microsoft)

During the last couple of years, there has been a huge push for virtual reality and augmented reality hardware peripherals. The devices have mostly targeted gamers and some mobile enthusiasts, but they haven't entirely caught on with the mainstream just yet, despite Sony leading the way with a few million units sold of the PlayStation VR headset kit for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro. Obviously, a lot of people have been wondering when Microsoft would be stepping into the VR arena and providing gamers with their own headsets for the Xbox brand of home consoles. The company did offer support from other third-parties for the Microsoft Mixed Reality sets but still doesn't have a dedicated VR solution.

According to CNET, Microsoft just didn't think the tech was feasible as a consumer product... yet.

The article notes how there have been concerted efforts by Microsoft to get into the VR game as early as 2015. The company was prototyping devices to work with the Xbox One game consoles, but according to the report, the quality of the headset was no better than the PlayStation VR headset, which is often criticized for having the screen-door effect when compared to the quality of VR headsets offered by HTC and Facebook's Oculus.

Instead of trying to force a headset onto the market just for the sake of competing, Microsoft decided to take the wise route and wait. A lot of people felt as if the Xbox One X would have provided an excellent opportunity to introduce a VR solution for Microsoft's home console market, but as noted in the article, Microsoft put a plug on that idea during this year's E3 when it was confirmed that there was not going to be a dedicated VR headset launching for the Xbox One family of consoles.

Alternative to supporting VR in the console space, Microsoft has taken to offering software support for the Mixed Reality headsets that launched last year for Windows 10 operating systems. The Mixed Reality headsets aren't just VR headsets but are also capable of AR (or augmented reality) capabilities as well. The devices, however, have not really ticked upward in terms of market saturation. Some people have them, a lot don't, and there isn't really any dedicated software for the Mixed Reality sets that sets them apart from the current competition on the market.

And therein lies another problem; the article notes that Microsoft's intended VR headset for the Xbox brand wasn't really any different from the other headsets currently on the market. Microsoft didn't feel as if it was worth it to invest in yet another headset, especially a wired one, at this time.

Some people thought it was odd that Microsoft forfeited leveraging the Xbox One X for VR gaming, but I think Microsoft made the right decision here. VR isn't mainstream, and there hasn't been an uptick in interest. As noted in the CNET article, there's also no real demand from Xbox gamers for VR software. Most would just be happy with more console exclusives.

According to the article, if the VR market grows and the demand is there, Microsoft could revisit adding a VR solution for the Xbox console, but the company apparently wants to focus on wireless VR gaming and something more original than what the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PSVR currently have to offer.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.