Microsoft: VR on Scorpio When It's Not Just "Demos And Experiments"

Microsoft: VR on Scorpio When It's Not Just "Demos And Experiments"

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Microsoft's Phil Spencer thinks that VR still has a long way to go before it's something the company will consider.

A lot of people are excited about VR these days. Sony has just launched its own mass market VR headset for the PS4, and so naturally all eyes are on Microsoft to see if it will follow suit. But don't hold your breath for VR on the upcoming Project Scorpio, as Xbox head Phil Spencer doesn't think that VR is quite ready yet.

"Most of these things I'm playing now feel like demos and experiments," Spencer said of VR to Australian magazine Stevivor. "I still think the creative community has to get its arms around what are these new tools, and this new feeling - this new immersion."

He continued to explain that VR hasn't found its "Dance Central" yet. "Kinect turned into the Dance Central box," he summarized. "It didn't map to controller in any way ... It just said, 'see something, do something and the game reacts', those were what turned into the right Kinect games. They didn't have a map to what happened in the kind of traditional controller-based games and I think VR will be the same."

He also doesn't like the fact that VR headsets are still tethered to their devices with a cable. "In the long run, we need untethered solutions. You need to have the compute capability not be wired to my display that's on my head. That means I either have some kind of high-bandwidth wireless HDMI or I have compute here."

All that said, he did stress that Project Scorpio is being designed as a VR-capable device, so when VR is finally "ready," Scorpio will be able to run it.

Source: Stevivor

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Wait a minute, Phil Spencer said something that isn't totally dumb? Well, that just adds more evidence that he is nothing more than a programmable robot.

I don't think we are going to see that many serious games for VR. It's not just that the hardware might not be able to support it, but it's the fact that a lot of people can't stand using the tech for more than half an hour at a time without being adversely affected.

Currently, I don't expect VR, as cool as it is in theory, to be a major game changer. The fact is that the most affordable option (PSVR) is $800. That's a big investment for anyone. Nevermind any other issues, the cost is potentially prohibitive. This can minimize the potential install base, making any major games that are VR exclusive too expensive with too little potential return on the investment.

Add to that other concerns, and I'm not expecting VR to be the wave of the future any more than motion controls were.

That being said I think completely dismissing it may be short sighted. So designing the Scorpio to be able to do VR is a smart move. But does Microsoft have a VR concept or are they planning to use an existing system?

This just seems odd given all the recent pushes to integrates Windows and the Xbox experience. Seeing as how we've just had Microsoft announce partnerships for headsets for Windows, it's a bit of a disconnect to see Xbox actively stepping away from it.

Soon hopefully WiGig (802.11ad) will allow untethered video, audio and controls so the only remaining problem will be battery power maybe (fannypack anyone?)

Probably a smart move for them not to get too invested in an expensive tech most people don't own yet. VR games have a long way to go before they're anything more than the Wii sports of the platform and the headsets are out of reach for most people.

those were what turned into the right Kinect games

Aww Phil is still pretending anything good came out of the Kinect

Good on you Spencer, not committing to the VR craze. It's almost like everyone forgot the 3-D craze that happened not long ago. I still firmly believe whatever the future of VR will be, it won't be in gaming.

You know, you could like...do something about it right? Like, make some real VR games. Microsoft has plenty of bitch companies to do that, dont they?

When Nintendo does something weird, they then make their own games that use said weird thing. Wii Sports was a Nintendo game after all.

And what happened to that Minecraft VR stuff?

I agree with the sentiment but don't tell me what I want corporate overlord

Uh huh.

So let me get this straight: Phil Spencer, of Microsoft, comes out to downplay the increasing popularity of VR (what a coincidence that one of their direct competitors just recently released a VR headset), up-plays the "success" of the Kinect and it's elusive "good" games, and still leaves the door open by saying, "But Scorpio will totally be able to do VR you guys. You should go buy it..."

Holy shit it's like PR bullshit incarnate. I'd split my sides laughing at him but it's just so....expected.

Someone call me when Phil Spencer gets around to saying something worthwhile. This latest bout of verbal diarrhea certainly isn't bucking the trend.

That's cute how he thinks bringing up the kinect was smart and that the kinect being an exclusive dance game peripheral because it didn't fucking work with anything else was a good thing.

It does really come down to availability of actual games for VR headsets. And the issue is that there probably aren't any, or any worthwhile ones in development. Let us speculate a moment.

Let's assume that all VR headsets are the same and just work on whatever platform. Let us also assume that we are a publisher and have "an amount of money" to spend to develop one unit of "game". Right now, as a publisher we can choose to spend our money to make our "game" for one or more of several platforms out there: PC, PS4, XBone, PS3/360, Wii U, 3DS, Vita, Android/iPhone/Windows Phone, others. Mobile development tends to go hand in hand, such that one game will routinely be peddled on all the smartphone platforms. AAA games are usually cross-platform for PC and both of Sony's & MS's latest console.

All the above said, VR exists on PC and PS4 only, as of right now (and according to this article won't be adopted by MS any time soon). Of the people who own PCs and PS4s, without specifying a number, I think it's fair to say that only a small percentage actually has VR hardware. Now let us look at what kind of game we can choose to make. We can make: a standard AAA game to use controller/keyboard for PC, PS4, XBone. We can make a game for VR only. We can make a game that works both with VR and without, and using a normal controller/keyboard.

Do we spend our money to make a VR only game, the kind that actually uses the tech to it's full advantage, making immersive, unique experiences BUT which only the small percentage of PC & PS4 users who own the hardware can enjoy? Do we make our game VR capable, but also able to work without, thus getting more potential customers, at the expense of making a unique, VR experience since one can actually play it without? Or do we spend our money to target the usual PC/XBone/PS4 crowd?

Financially speaking, it is an almost impossible sell to any corporate exec at a game publisher, to spend money and develop a full game with a AAA budget for a fraction of the gaming audience. Yet, that is exactly what needs to happen if the technology will ever have anything to showcase it other than tech demos. Making a game that can be played with or without VR isn't the answer, since any VR capability then will be an unneeded gimmick bolted onto a normal game (such as Skyrim/ME3/Ryse:SoR with Kinect voice commands).

As it is now, we have expensive hardware that doesn't offer anything unique, so it's a tough sell to us consumers. And we have hardware few consumers have, so it's a tough sell to game developers. Something needs to give if VR will ever take off...either the hardware needs to become widely adopted enough that it increases demand for VR games, or the supply of VR games needs to go up to convince people to buy the hardware. On top of this, retracting an earlier assumption, I'm fairly sure there are in fact differences between headsets that suggests not all VR experiences might work on all competing headsets, fracturing an already small audience further.

One other point that might be worth noting...the cost of the hardware is such that, if we're being brutally honest, isn't going to sell a great deal to audiences in second or third world countries. America/Canada, Euro, Aus/NZ and Japan are really the main potential audiences as most of Asia, Russia, S. America, Africa aren't places that $500+ shiny tech will sell in high numbers.

In my brutally honest opinion, I think overall VR is too hard a sell and will be relegated to the same niche currently occupied by Kinect (remember the shenanigans surrounding XBone/Kinect integration at launch and its subsequent reversal?) and other such things. The asking price of a) $500+ and b) a large, uncluttered room in which to fit it is a restrictively high barrier to entry even assuming c) there are sufficient people who want to game standing up, moving around and who don't get motion sickness/headaches. The fact that on top of these barriers, there's nothing waiting for us in VR-Land as of the time of writing (months after Vive and shortly after PS4 VR hardware have been on sale) mean it's an uphill battle few people are even fighting.

In order to get Blu Ray adopted, at least early on Sony sold PS3s at a loss just to get them into homes. I believe they did eventually make profit on them but not for years...getting them sold was more important than immediate profit since Blu Ray was their proprietary technology and they were banking on *its* mass adoption for future profits, since every BR disc sold, they get a tiny amount of money.

Right now, even if VR headsets were given away completely free, having space in which to put it and games to play on it would still make it unattractive. Even if it were given away completely free AND there were games to play on it, there would still be the issue of space to fit it and desire to play on it.

And motion sickness is a very real issue. Unlike in fairground simulators that simulate movement physically as well as virtually, here motion is *only* simulated virtually. Assuming we had a space sufficient for running VR, there's still only so much real walking and climbing we can do to correspond to in-game movement. Ultimately, in popular games like FPSs and sandboxes (with or without driving), there is usually a lot of lateral movement and often some vertical movement too. Without the ability to physically simulate this movement, our bodies will be largely stationary while our brains will be getting told that we are in fact moving. Just like going on long, motorway car rides or super-speed railways, people can and will get motion sickness because their brains and bodies are experiencing different things (the opposite way round to motion sickness on boats or airplanes).

 

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