This week, we finally got the long-awaited price point and release date for Microsoft’s two next generation consoles – the monstrous Xbox Series X and its disc-less younger brother, the Xbox Series S. Announced after a dastardly leak on Social Media, we now know customers will be able to get their hands on the new consoles on the 10th of November, at a price of $299 for the Series S and $499 for the Series X.
While PS5 fans are now rightly jealous that their anticipation continues to be milked, they should probably take comfort in two facts. Firstly, the price and release date probably will not be too different. But secondly, PlayStation might officially have the leg-up. Xbox has now set a release date for their next-gen foray and we can now be certain they could not care less about VR.
How do we know? Well, Phil Spencer said so. In an interview with Gamertag Radio, he stated the company did not see VR-capability as “so important” in its next generation hardware and that they’re waiting until XboxVR becomes a “no brainer.”
Last month, I wrote that the focus of a console war ad campaign was usually a canary in the coalmine, giving us a view into the grand plan of console gaming in the next gen. Sony has played its hand – it’s offering immersion, ‘play with no limits’ and a system where you don’t just play a game, but feel it too. VR could not fit more perfectly with that philosophy.
On the other hand, Xbox have doubled down on bringing 4K gaming to the masses. The Xbox Series X is a monster – aesthetically and technologically – and the Xbox Series S sacrifices the disc-drive and several other specifications to ensure it still brings the goods. Would VR bring Microsoft closer to achieving those goals? Well, it is certainly not a “no brainer.”
Sony have told us that VR is incredibly important to their vision for PS5. There could not have been a more opposite statement in response to the Xbox camp. But despite this, all we have so far are Sony’s vague promises of "big things for PSVR in the pipeline". It's not like VR defines Sony's play for the next-gen.
So, what does all this mean for the future of console VR? Well, I just checked with the canary. He's alive and well, not to worry. But more importantly, he is not convinced that VR is not going to define the next generation of home consoles. Or, at least, it wont for the first few years. In the meantime, it'll continue to take a backseat until it becomes a "no brainer".